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Growing girls wrestling more important than a ribbon for Steamboat senior

Meanwhile, Soroco’s Whaley is 1 win from a state title

Steamboat Springs senior Adalia George lost her quarterfinal match and moved to the consolation bracket at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 18, at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

DENVER — Steamboat Springs High School senior Adalia is the first-born of four George siblings. She was the first of anyone in her family to wrestle, but she’s determined to not be the last.

Her 12-year-old sister, Amanaki, has started wrestling in middle school, something she’s super excited about. Her mom, not so much.

Adalia is used to being an example for her three younger siblings, but she hopes her involvement in wrestling has shown girls that it’s an option, whether it’s curiosity or spite leading them to the mat.



Adalia first got involved in the sport in middle school after her shop teacher suggested she couldn’t keep up with the wrestlers. She joined the team just to prove him, and others, wrong.

Now, she’s at the Colorado High School Activities Association Girls Wrestling State Championships at Ball Arena.



Adalia lost her quarterfinal on Friday, Feb. 18, but won her consolation-round match to keep active in the 161-pound consolation bracket.

“Sometimes when I feel less motivated, I think about my family,” she said. “My dad especially, and my little sister. There’s times I want to quit, but she’s wrestling now. My mom’s not very happy.”

Adalia isn’t satisfied with just recruiting her sister. She’s heard there’s a few more girls in the middle school wrestling program, so after her stint at state, she hopes to go help them wrap up their season.

Sailors senior Adalia George celebrates with Steamboat Springs coach Jordan Bonifas after winning a consolation match at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 18, at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

“It’s my way of giving my appreciation to the sport back” she said. “Even if I lose the rest of my matches, it has taught me so much more than a lot of people have. The sport really means a lot more to me than just wrestling. I found love, I found hate, everything in between. It’s seriously been a big impact.”

Amanaki wasn’t able to make the trip to Denver to watch her older sister compete, but Adalia’s mom, Ailini, was able to attend.

“It’s a pretty big deal my mom is here. That means a lot to me,” Adalia said. “Making it here, it’s been a really long time since she’s gotten to see me wrestle. I don’t think she understands what I do, so I think it’s cool she finally gets to see it pay off.”

Adalia competes for Steamboat, but travels with the Soroco girls team. In the second CHSAA-sanctioned season of girls wrestling, females are required to wrestle females, which means small teams on the Western Slope must travel long distances to tournaments almost every weekend.

Between the travel and being a single mom caring for three other children, Adalia’s mom has hardly seen her wrestle. She came to senior night at SSHS, but didn’t get to see her daughter wrestle, since it was a boys competition.

Adalia has seen the sport explode in Colorado through her years on the team, but thinks there can be more changes to make it even more accessible. She wishes there were more tournaments, but that will come as the sport grows. She also thinks being able to wrestle boys, even unofficially, would give girls more opportunities to get on a mat. Adalia had to sit and watch her male teammates compete on senior night, rather than join them.

Adalia still has to win one more match to be guaranteed a place on the podium. Even if she doesn’t have a ribbon with her name on it, she knows there is proof of her presence in girls wrestling.

Whaley could win it all

Soroco sophomore Larhae Whaley is one win away from becoming a state champion at 100 pounds at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 18, at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Soroco sophomore Larhae Whaley is one win away from reaching her goal of being a state champion.

She won her quarterfinal with an 8-5 decision, advancing to the semifinal later in the evening where she won an intense 6-2 decision.

Whaley had state experience as a freshman last year at the Southwest Motors Event Center in Pueblo. This year, the tournament returned to Denver, and Whaley showed up with more experience — and a near-perfect season record.

“I’m glad it’s at the Pepsi Center,” Whaley said, referencing the longtime former name of what is now Ball Arena. “The experience just out on the floor in general, just absorbing it and enjoying it, is like nothing else.”

Whaley will compete in the parade of champions at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19, and wrestle in the finals soon after.

Makaela Simpson lost her quarterfinal in the 185-pound bracket at the Colorado High School Activities Association State Wrestling Championships on Friday, Feb. 18, at Ball Arena.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Soroco teammate Makaela Simpson also competed in the quarterfinals after winning her first match on Thursday. She lost, so she moved to the consolation bracket, where she won her next match. She’ll continue wrestling on Saturday with a chance to finish as high as third.

McKenzie Clark, another Soroco wrestler, also was slated to wrestle in the semifinals, but she didn’t make weight on Friday morning, so she was eliminated from the bracket.


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