It was another successful year for SFU women’s wrestling. The team had two national champions in Mallory Velte and Payten Smith, and three other top three finishes in Dominique Parrish, Nicole Depa, and Abby Lloyd, with Francesca Giorgio finishing fourth. As a whole, the team finished second in the standings.
“The girls wrestled really, really well,” said head coach Mike Jones, talking to The Peak. “Obviously there’s matches when you’re coaching, especially in an individual sport, where you’re never completely happy. You have some kids that really pull things out and win and some that slip a little bit. [. . .] The good thing is that the girls realise they could have won [the national championship] and are already jacked and excited for next year.”
Mallory Velte was, perhaps, the standout performer on this year’s team. She was to repeat in the 143-pound weight class, and as a junior, has a chance to go for the three-peat next season.
“I think she will,” said Jones when asked what her chances are at a third-straight national championship. “Mallory is at a point in her academic career where because she had an injury year that she could finish her degree. But I think she’s excited to come back and go for a third title. But more importantly, I think she wants to see the team win a title.”
Payten Smith was the other national champion, picking it up in the 191-pound weight class. She defeated the number one-ranked opponent, Paige Baynes, in a tight contest.
“It was kind of [a] last-minute effort that paid off,” said Jones on the match. “She got a nice throw and the girl hadn’t been in that situation all year. [. . .] [Payten] has been third, second, [and] first all year, so she’s in that mix. It just wasn’t a good match for her until the last 17 seconds. She’ll be back next year and she’s excited to improve.”
Dominique Parrish finished second in the 123-pound weight class in a tight match, and has the ability to become “one of the best we’ve ever had,” according to Jones. Nicole Depa also finished second in her weight class, and although she “didn’t fare too well in the final,” she was a runner-up for the second-straight year. Francesca Giorgio put in a inspirational performance, finishing third while battling with a hamstring injury.
Although this year was highly successful, Jones foresees an even better year next season with the wealth of returning talent the team will have at its disposal.
“If we can get three or four outstanding recruits, I seriously think it will be the best team SFU has fielded,” explained Jones. “The 2013 team was pretty special. We had an olympic champion and a world champion and two Canadian champions [. . .] It was a pretty solid team, but I actually think next year’s team will be that good.”