Whatever Rogers High wrestling and girls coach Tom Tripple has been doing, it seems to be working. Tripple is turning the Rams into one of the top girls wrestling programs in the state.
And it has many of the programs around the area envious as they are on the outside looking in.
We also are confident when we’re at school, and I think other girls see that. They see it and want to be a part of it.
After Rogers brought in 100 wrestlers to both the boys and girls programs at the beginning of the season — 77 boys and 33 girls — it’s hard not to take notice of what the Rams have going on up on the Hill.
“To hear that Tom has brought in more girls than last year — not just bringing in the numbers, but girls that can compete and are enthusiastic about the sport,” Puyallup girls coach Bryan Bartelson said. “It’s a struggle sometimes year to year to put a whole girls team together, but (the Rams) don’t seem to have that issue. What Tom is doing up at Rogers is special.”
Two years ago, Rogers girls wrestling crossed the 20-team member threshold, one that gave Tripple hope that at least half would return. But instead of cutting the numbers after the 2014-2015 season, the roster grew.
And those numbers have kept ticking up as more and more girls keep coming out to participate.
“I think it’s because the coaches are at the school, and they are always trying to bring more students out to wrestling,” Mariyah Gaither said. “They are always positive about the sport. Especially coach Tripple, who works in the guidance office — he’s always willing to help us out, and he wants us involved in the school.”
“We also are confident when we’re at school, and I think other girls see that,” she added. “They see it and want to be a part of it.”
Whatever is working has not only brought in numbers that would match what many Class 1A and B schools produce with both boys and girls teams as a whole.
“I think it’s because they like each other. We do team building, and they have created a sisterhood here,” Tripple said. “And we try to have fun each practice. My intent is not to beat them down. My intent is to teach them wrestling, and then to graduate to bring it up to a higher level.”
It’s a level the Rams are now showing they can meet with some of the top talent in the state.
Entering this week, Rogers has two wrestlers listed in the top ten on the Washington Wrestling Report, with Gaither ranked No. 3 at 145 pounds and Howell the No. 10-ranked wrestler in the 140-pound bracket.
Many different people are interested in something that is so tough. Some people don’t think that girls are really tough but we really are.
Both Sophia Suarez (120) and Taylor Adriance (145) are on the cusp of the top-10 rankings, and could crack the top spot sometime in the new year.
“I’ve been doing it for awhile, and I like to see all the new girls coming in. It’s different people every year,” Gabriella Howell said. “So many different people are interested in something that is so tough. Some people don’t think that girls are really tough but we really are.”
With Rogers being the seventh-most populated school (2016-2020) in the 4A (1,743.09 enrollment), it’s not completely surprising to see such a large roster. But not having any fluctuations in the roster while still producing strong talent each year is another matter in of itself.
“I love this sport, and with girls like Mariyah that push me to get better, it’s great to be around,” Adriance said. “It’s a great team to be around.”
Having one wrestler in the rankings is a special accomplishment for a program, but to have so many girls on a roster and with so many talent in close weight classes makes a difference.
It can mean the difference of learning the sport, Tripple said, or getting a tournament-ready workout during practices.
“Every girl here is prepared to work and put in all their effort during practice,” Gaither said. “We have fun and enjoy being around each other, but we all come here with the purpose to get better and to help each other get better.”
By helping each other get better, there’s a chance for the Rogers girls wrestling program to do some great things later down the line when the matches matter most.
“We have 12 girls I think who can make it to regionals. From there, who knows?” Howell said.
Who knows what will happen with Rogers later in the season if everything falls into place. The boys team was light at the state meet last year but still found a way to finish ninth in 4A.
What we’re trying to build is a legacy. We’re trying to leave something that future Rams want to be a part of. We want to build a family — a ‘Ramily.’
If the Rams girls can get enough wrestlers through regionals, especially with a roster the size that Tripple has amassed, who knows what’s in store for Rogers this year.
But one thing is for certain: Rogers is a wrestling school. One that the girls are starting to stake their own place, something special that no other program seems to be able to match.
“What we’re trying to build is a legacy,” Gaither said. “We’re trying to leave something that future Rams want to be a part of. We want to build a family — a ‘Ramily.’”