Charleston High School will be represented by two wrestlers at the IHSA Girls Individual State Finals in Bloomington this Friday and Saturday.
Mackensie Williams, a junior in the 145-weight class, placed fourth at sectionals to quality after going 11-22 against both boys and girls this past season. Her first-round matchup will be against Valerie Hamilton from El Paso Gridley.
Alaynia Bryant, a senior at the 125-weight class, won the sectional title. She will face Ashley Villa from Lincoln Way Central. Bryant is 11-9 this season. Bryant has been wrestling for 14 years and this is Williams’ third year in the sport.
We asked each wrestler a few questions as they prepare for state competition.
COLES COUNTY SPORTS: What are your goals for state this week?
Bryant: “I want to place, to make history of being the first girl placer for my school, my sister was first to make it to state but fell short of placing so I have set a goal of just being on podium.”
Williams: “I want to do my absolute best that I can and go as far as I can at state.”
COLES COUNTY SPORTS: What did you learn this season about yourself as a wrestler?
Bryant: “After 2 years off I still have the skills but have had to work hard to build back up the endurance.”
Williams: “I learned that determination can overpower anything.”
COLES COUNTY SPORTS: How have your coaches help prep and prepare you for this moment?
Bryant: “My coaches have me work on my technique and attack, try to dominate each match and keep control.”
Williams: “My coaches have always encouraged me to do my best and power through in my matches.”
COLES COUNTY SPORTS:What are your thoughts on the community sendoff planned for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. along Lincoln Avenue in Charleston?
Bryant: “It’s great to see all the community and school support us girls get in the growing sport. I have gained many fans the last 14 years I’ve been in the sport so it’s always nice to hear them support me and know they are still enjoy watching me do my thing on the mat.
Williams: “I’m so excited and grateful that the whole community is here to support us and wishing us the best of luck.”
Wrestling begins at 9 Friday morning at the Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.