At Mat Classic XXIX inside the Tacoma Dome, Puyallup High senior Brooklyn Bartelson’s long-awaited dream finally became a reality after she claimed the girls 120-pound state championship in the closing seconds of the finals, solidifying both her own and her family’s legacy in wrestling.
But a state title wasn’t necessary for Bartelson to create her legacy in girls wrestling in the state of Washington.
That was established a while ago when both Brooklyn and her older sister, Jordyn, set out on this journey with their father and coach, Bryan.
For the Bartelsons, it has always been a family-first mindset.
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“I just really wanted (the championship) this year,” Brooklyn said. “After falling short the past couple of years, it just was not what my expectations were. I wanted that title this year.”
For five consecutive years, the Bartelson name has graced the top spot of the girls 120-pound bracket, where Jordyn (four state titles) started the run and Brooklyn ended it with the championship on Feb. 18.
“It’s special to see both your girls do what they have done in the 120-weight bracket for five years,” Bryan said. “They were both ahead of their time. There are girls only two or three years younger that are walking up to Brooklyn and telling (people) she’s their idol. This is before Brooklyn won a state title. It’s that kind of respect both her and Jordyn built by how hard they work, and how high they set the bar each year.”
Both Bartelson sisters won a 4A state title with the Puyallup softball team in 2014, making it seven shared state titles between Brooklyn and Jordyn.
“Simon Fraser is only losing one girl, and that’s at my weight (class). They have a chance of winning a (Canadian) national title, and I want to help with that,” said Brooklyn of her future collegiate home in British Columbia.
She wants to help Simon Fraser win a national title much like how Jordyn helped the Western Washington University women’s soccer program win the national title this past fall.
One of the holiest of numbers the wrestling world abides by is 100. If you can achieve 100 pins in your career, then there’s something there that college programs desire.
That’s a number that demonstrates domination through strength and endurance over a career, where opponents are folded, twisted and knotted into submission via the pin.
Over their career, both Bartelson sisters have displayed that they were ahead of the competition; Jordyn owns the school’s all-time record with 127 career pins while Brooklyn is not far behind with 114 pins.
“And Brooklyn did that missing six weeks of the season with an injury,” Bryan said. “If she would have been healthy, she could have surpassed Jordyn because Brooklyn is a finisher. When she had you down, you were down, and you aren’t going to escape her. “To say that it’s the all-time school record is really not being fair to the boys, because that’s how far ahead they were from the rest of the state. The state had to catch up to them.”
After Mat Classic XXIX, Brooklyn finished with a career record of 136-18, including and second- (2014 and 2016) and third-place (2015) finishes in addition to her state championship this season.
“It hasn’t really sank in yet,” said Brooklyn of her title win.
Throughout Brooklyn’s career, more and more girls came up to her father wanting to inquire about what makes Brooklyn tick. Instead, they were offered a chance to train with her at the personal gym Bryan had built up on South Hill just off Military Road.
It first started with White River’s Erin Radford, then Saisha Morales of Steilacoom came out, and so did Sumner’s Nicole Clark.
For an entire offseason, these three girls were wrestling alongside Brooklyn, someone they all admired, as they each sought their own dreams of reaching the podium.
“When we offered Saisha to come out and train with Brooklyn, she was wide-eyed and speechless at first,” Bryan recalled of meeting the Steilacoom freshman for the first time.
By training with Brooklyn, each and every one of the three placed at state this year, with Radford (130) bringing back a state title for the Hornets.
“We worked hard together, and for both of us to win a state title together was special,” said Brooklyn about winning a state title with Radford.
Both Morales (110) and Clark (135) finished in third place after reaching the semifinals.
“I don’t really see myself as a role model, but I think it’s nice that other girls recognize how hard I work,” Brooklyn said. “For me, it was never about the recognition. It was always about being close to my dad and sister.”
Like one big family
Mat Classic XXIX was nearly a family affair with the Bartelsons and Josh Franich as both Brooklyn and her Puyallup High teammate were the only representatives from the city of Puyallup to walk out of the Tacoma Dome with a state championship.
As Franich (138 pounds) brought home his second consecutive title and Brooklyn brought home her first, it was just like how they drew it up all those years wrestling together growing up.
“It’s pretty cool because (Franich) won a state title with my sister last year, and we were able to win one together this year,” Brooklyn said. “We’ve known each other our whole lives, trained together and me and Jordyn wrestled with his sister, Haley, for years.”
The mood of practice is always dictated by the top wrestler on the roster, and for Puyallup wrestling, it was always set by a Bartelson or a Franich.
“When all three girls were together — with Jordyn and Brooklyn wrestling with Haley — it was trio of wrestlers that don’t come around very often,” Bryan said. “They help set what each wrestler should expect when coming to practice. We just built on that this year with Josh and Brooklyn setting the pace for practice. We wanted everyone to rise up to their level.”
And by having everyone at the level of what it takes to win a state title, Bryan added, it allowed Puyallup to walk away with two state titles at Mat Classic XXIX.
“I think winning my state title with Josh felt right because of all the time we spent preparing,” Brooklyn said. “And Josh was surprising because he lost to (South Kitsap’s Mason Eaglin) the previous two times before the finals. For us to do this together was special.”
And as the career of Brooklyn comes to a close, the best memory was not the placement matches or the state championship itself.
Not even the story of Jordyn being afraid to watch Brooklyn’s championship match, only to take a peak and hide again because of the anxiety of the night.
It came in two parts — first in the semifinals when Brooklyn won by an 8-6 decision over Mayu Molina of Battle Ground.
“Right away, (Molina) hit a takedown and Brooklyn was down 5-0 early in the first,” Bryan recalled with tears in his eyes as he remembered the fight in his daughter. “She had to battle back, and at some point, I stopped being a coach and started being Dad. I started yelling for her not to quit, and she didn’t — she kept fighting, and after the match their coaches were stunned by her comeback. The girl was still on the floor as Brooklyn walked off.”
The second came from a longtime friend of Bryan’s, Orting girls coach Larry Barber, who pushed his way past the barricades as couldn’t wait to greet Bryan.
“He came up to me and said congratulations, and he wanted to be the first to welcome my family (the Bartelsons) alongside the Huards, the Lookers and many of the other legendary families that came from Puyallup,” Bryan said.
Not just a local legendary family — not after the careers of both Bartelson sisters, topped off with Brooklyn’s state title. After Mat Classic XXIX, the Bartelsons have entered into Washington state wrestling lore.