Charleston’s Morgan Smallhorn medaled in her first wrestling tournament, taking second place at the Pontiac Invitational.

The freshman pinned her first two opponents before losing in the championship match at 120 pounds.

“She (Smallhorn) is she able to react and moves quickly in and out of some certain situations that are pretty impressive right now given her limited mat time,” Trojans coach Mike Stanley said.

Mackensie Williams, meanwhile, took sixth place in the 145-pound division, going 2-2 against several state-ranked opponents.

Smallhorn won her first match without any problems at all, earning a pin at the 1 minute mark.

Her second match was fairly tight to start, said Stanley. But Smallhorn eventually pinned her opponent in 1 minute, 52 seconds.

“She gave up a few scores, but she kept moving from whatever situation she was in to create opportunities for herself,” Stanley said. “Her opponent pretty much fell off and broke mentally because she wasn’t keeping up with Morgan’s pace. I anticipate this will be a trend in Morgan’s matches against other girls and against higher and higher competitive levels as time goes on and she becomes more nuanced with her pressures and balance and leverage.”

Smallhorn’s championship match against Maddie Wells of St. Joseph Ogden could have gone either way, Stanley said.

Smallhorn wrestled by remaining up top, using her upper body strength – testing Wells’ pressures and leverages more with arm ties and throws than with foot movement and leg attacks. Smallhorn came close to succeeding with these methods, but Wells gained the advantage, threw her to the mat and earned the pin.

“I would have liked to see Morgan look for leg attacks more than she did, and to stay back and out of the ties a little more and using her quickness, level changes and leg attacks to try to score,” Stanley said. “I think she is a bit hesitant at the moment to make these attacks for fear of putting herself out of position and giving up the score off her own attack. As she gets more practice time drilling leg attacks in practice, she should gain more and more confidence to implement them in competitive matches and against higher-level wrestlers. When she does, a whole new range of attacks will be available and effective for her – and she will jump levels from where she currently is. It’s pretty a phenomenal achievement and a pretty clear sign of the success ahead of her at the high school level and most likely opportunities beyond if she decides to commit herself to this sport the next four years.”

Williams finished sixth in her 145-pound division despite facing three state-ranked opponents and taking on the eventual bracket winner, Canton’s Katie Marvel, in her first match.

Williams battled Marvel well before stepping into a headlock late in the first period and getting pinned after a tough battle to get off her back.

Due to the bracket setup, losing a first-round match only allowed the girls to wrestle back to a fifth place match, which she did by winning her next two matches – 10-8 in overtime and 3-2 respectively. 

In the first of these comeback matches, Williams earned an early takedown and gave up an escape to end the first period ahead, 2-1.

After giving an escape to start the second period, William stepped into a headlock, but, this time, she was able to fight off her back. Trailing by several points headed into the third period, she was able to escape and take her opponent three separate times with an armpass to even the match and force overtime where she once again hit the same arm pass to earn the victory.

“Mackensie’s strength and conditioning allowed to recover and keep her in the tournament to an eventual place match,” Stanley said. “She was just on a different level than her opponent when they reached the third period in comparison to when they started the match, and her ability to keep pushing won her the match.” 

Williams’ third match was a much more dominant affair than the 3-2 score suggested, Stanley said.

Williams was never really in danger of giving up points, he said, and her a opponent was awarded what Stanley called fairly questionable points – on a push-out on the side of the mat and on a stalling call.

In the fifth-sixth place match, Williams battled well, Stanley said. But Williams was unable to get a leg attack called a fireman’s dump. “She had good hips was continually blocking the initial attack, but (her opponent) would change directions with the attack, which is what makes the attack effective,” he said. “Mackensie had trouble adjusting and keeping up with this pressure shift.”

“If Mackensie continues to work on her weaknesses, there is no reason that she couldn’t beat any of those girls who were in her bracket by the end of this season,” Stanley said. “Like Morgan, she needs to become more comfortable and confident on the offense with her own leg attacks and trust her shot. Other than that, she needs to adjust and adapt to specific weakness that get exposed throughout her competitions. She is hanging with the top level girls as it is, and, if she is willing to make the adjustments she needs to throughout the season, it would not surprise me to see her make the state tournament and make plenty of noise when she gets there.”