• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports Editor

Bernabe and Brooks earn All-American honors in Fargo

THREE WCHS WRESTLERS competed at the Fargo Dome in the US Marines and Cadet National Championship. From left, Ashley Courtney, Mequioa Bernabe and Triston Brooks. (Photo submitted)

Three Woodford County High School wrestlers competed in the United States Marines Cadet & Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D. July 14 to 20.

Triston Brooks and Maquoia Bernabe earned All-American honors at the event. WCHS junior Mequoia Bernabe and sophomore Ashley Courtney represented the first ever Team Kentucky in the tournament.

Brooks placed seventh in the boys' Greco Roman 160-pound weight class. Brooks won by an 8-0 decision over Cayden Homme (Minnesota). In the second round, Brooks lost a narrow 12-11 decision to Tucker Naccarato (Utah), and Brooks won by decision over Dawson Mathews (Georgia) in the first consolation round. He then won 6-0 over Tristan Vance (Michigan). Brooks next defeated Jacob Law (Oklahoma) 10-0 and battled back to defeat Quayan Short (Minnesota) and Nicholas Otero (New York). Brooks beat Julian Kennedy (Washington) by a 14-8 decision in the seventh-place match.

Bernabe placed fifth in the junior women's freestyle 225-pound weight class. Bernabe lost an 8-2 decision to Christina Santoyo (California) in her first-round match. Bernabe bounced back with a 2-1 decision over Kalista Banales (California) then pinned Dominique Diaz (New York). Bernabe lost a 5-0 decision in a rematch with Santoyo but earned a spot in the medal round. In the fifth-place match, Bernabe won a 7-4 decision over Taja Showers (Virginia).

"It's a very stressful event but it was awesome and I wouldn't trade it," said Bernabe. "This experience has taught me so much about myself. I now that I can dig deeper than I ever thought I could and to never give up. When you are fighting and things are tough, it can change your way in a second if you keep fighting. I feel that it was special to represent a group of young women from Kentucky to show the rest of the nation just what we can do."

Courtney lost her opening match by pin to Hailey Ward (California). In the following round, she pinned Kylie Robledo (Texas) in 41 seconds and then pinned Skyleigh Pflaster (Kansas) in 40 seconds. In her second quarter-final match, Courtney lost an 8-2 decision to Ronda Sahagun (Michigan) - falling one match shy of earning All-American status.

"This experience was truly overwhelming," said Courtney. "To be in the Fargo Dome with the best wrestlers in the country is a unique feeling that I won't forget. Being part of a team of girls from Kentucky that made history at this event is special. We wanted the whole country to see what Kentucky can do, and I think we achieved that. The event itself has taught me many things about what I would like to do to improve for this year's season, and I hope I can continue to work hard toward my goals."

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