by Michael Smith
The Grain Valley girls wrestling team has made some major strides since the 2020-21 season.
In that year, Sevi Aumua was the only girl on the team and then the Eagles had two girls the following season with Ava Kusick joining.
During the 2022-23 campaign, Aumua had someone from her team get to join her at the Class 2 Missouri State High School Girls Wrestling championships as Jayden Moehle also qualified.
Now, the Eagles have the best group they have ever had and that was proven at the Class 2 District 4 Tournament Saturday at Platte County High School.
For the first time in program history, four Eagles girls qualified for the state tournament as Aumua, Moehle, Keya Butler and Adalia Del Real all finished in the top four to punch their ticket to Columbia. They will compete at state on Feb. 23-24 at Mizzou Arena.
“We’re really happy about having four qualifiers,” Grain Valley head coach Donald Horner said. “This program keeps growing. I am excited to see what we do in two weeks and what we do in the future.”
Grain Valley finished sixth out of 22 teams at districts with 95.5 points. Fort Osage won it with 162.
Aumua (140) and Del Real (155) led the Eagles by winning their respective brackets.
Aumua, a No. 1-ranked wrestlers who is a two-time defending state champion, proved why she is the favorite to win a third championship. She pinned Northtown freshman Emory Nessa in 35 seconds in the semifinals before putting away Blue Springs sophomore Ari Bartholomew in 25 seconds by fall in the finals to take first.
“Sometimes my goal is to (get a pin as fast as possible),” Aumua said. “Later on in the season, I want to get my matches done faster. I sometimes try to get takedowns and try new things and then get to my pin.”
Del Real will make her first trip to the state tournament this season as she rolled through her bracket. She earned a 17-0 tech fall in the semifinals and ended her day with a 12-3 major decision over Oak Park sophomore Bailee Wardlow in the championship bout.
“I am excited to be able to face some new opponents at state, but I am kind of nervous,” Del Real said. “I am getting more takedowns and getting up from bottom more than I did last season.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise among the qualifiers was Butler (145), who wrestled for the first time in her entire life this season. She won 10-2 in the first round and pinned St. Joseph Central freshman Ella Mae Cready to make it to the semifinals.
She fell to Raytown South senior Zayla Vann by pin and went on to the consolation bracket to face Fort Osage freshman Anita Bertling in the bubble match, which determined who would qualify for state. She edged Bertling 4-2 to advance to the third-place bout. She was pinned by Winnetonka sophomore Emma Crockett in the second period.
“When I am down at practice or before a match my teammates helped me get better at things,” Butler said. “That helped me about worrying about the things I wasn’t doing. They pushed me to get better.”
“When I first started, I thought I would win maybe one or two matches, but I just got better throughout the season.”
Horner heaped praise onto Butler following her big day.
“She’s athletic and she’s coachable,” Horner said. “She comes in with a good attitude. She has everything that you would want.”
Moehle qualified for state by finishing second in the 235-pound bracket. She advanced to the finals by getting pins in three matches, including one in 1:47 against Fort Osage sophomore Ayden Vaeao in the semifinals. In the championship bout, she fell 4-2 to Liberty sophomore Alexis Stinson in sudden victory.
Photo credit: Grain Valley Wrestling via X.