There might be only one middleweight girl in the state who can take down two-time defending state wrestling champion Jasmine Parker-Borrero.
It is her training partner at Wilson High School – Kathleen Flanagan.
“We battle back and forth, back and forth,” said Flanagan with a hearty chuckle.
The two teenagers have very different backgrounds, but both juniors could become the first city tandem to win WIAA state titles in the same season Saturday night at Mat Classic XXIX in the Tacoma Dome.
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Parker-Borrero pinned Granite Falls’ Karrah Smith in her 145-pound quarterfinal in 56 seconds while Flanagan outmuscled Washougal’s Brooklyn Wurm-Wurtz for a 12-3 decision in the 155 quarterfinals.
Both Rams’ wrestlers are undefeated heading into the semifinals Saturday.
Parker-Borrero is the natural. She glides around the mat with such ease, in large part because of her judo background.
In fact, she won her first national judo title at age 7.
The only reason she even came to wrestling was because her older sister, Kaya, competed at Lakes High School.
“She was my inspiration to start,” Parker-Borrero said. “So I started wrestling in sixth grade.”
Even in ninth grade, Parker-Borrero still didn’t understand many of the rules of folkstyle wrestling. She was constantly tagged for stall warnings and illegal holds during her matches.
“She’s been willing to listen, and willing to learn,” Wilson girls coach Josh Dickerson said. “And to be honest with you, I want her to be comfortable. She is so natural with her judo, it comes out in tight situations where it is a reaction. But when she is wrestling, she is using wrestling moves.”
Parker-Borrero survived a major scare this season being ineligible due to poor grades. She fixed it, and she now has her sights set on a third state championship.
“Before, I was a judo person coming into wrestling,” Parker-Borrero said. “Now I consider myself a wrestler.”
So does Flanagan, but in a completely different way.
Flanagan tried wrestling on a dare by her parents.
“And my sixth-grade self said, ‘I can do anything,’” Flanagan said.
But first, she had to improve her fitness – and lost 25 pounds to get down to the 155 class.
After finishing seventh last season at Mat Classic, she decided to go all-in with wrestling. She joined a freestyle team and competed in national tournaments all across the country last summer.
Her family has even hired a personal trainer and a mental coach to work with her year-round.
“I am centuries better,” said Flanagan, who is 42-0 this season with 36 pins. “I’ve worked technique. I’ve worked fitness. I feel ready, and all the preparation I did helped me get to where I am.”