Clark eager to defend her girls state title
CORALVILLE — The best thing that happened to Kendal Clark on the mat earlier this season was a loss.
Humboldt’s defending 182-pound IWCOA state champion suffered an early-season defeat at the Don Miller Invitational. That reset her priorities and drove her to succeed.
With no 182-pound division at the state meet this season, Clark had to decide if she was going to drop to 170 pounds or bump up to 195. At Fort Dodge, she went the 195 route and was on the verge of a victory, but got turned and pinned.
“I had her down, but I turned wrong and she got me at the right moment,” Clark said. “It knocked me down and I realized I needed to focus even more and push myself as far as I can.”
On the mat this season, Clark is more relaxed. That could spell trouble for the competition, as Clark is already a defending state champion.
A five-sport standout — a self-proclaimed gym rat and a weight-lifting guru — Clark has learned more about wrestling after relying more on her natural strength a year ago.
“Last year, I was in awe,” Clark said. “I didn’t think I could (win a state title), but I was able to accomplish it.
“I banked more on my strength than the ability to use this different moves.”
After becoming Humboldt’s first-ever girls state champion, this season has been a little different. Clark is stronger, more polished, and isn’t taking anyone by surprise.
“There is a little more pressure,” Clark said. “I’m having fun and really getting into it, but I also know I have a target on my back. There are a few voices of pressure. I know that anything can happen.
“I feel more confident and more patient, though. Before, I acted like I had 10 seconds to get a pin. Now I’m able to set it up.”
Clark was a leader on Humboldt’s state qualifying volleyball and softball teams. She is a Drake Relays and state track qualifier as well.
“I just like to see how much I can do,” Clark said. “Each day I get more sore, so it’s also about taking care of my body.
“I want to make sure in my last year (of high school) that I take advantage of all the opportunities in front of me.”
Clark (9-1) has earned the top seed in the 170-pound bracket and received a first-round bye.
“I’m pretty confident heading in,” Clark said. “We got our brackets a couple of days ago and I was looking through them and reliving some of the matches against some of the girls. You have to keep that in the back of your mind and not let anything get past you.
“I’ve been staying focused and trying to not worry about the pressure. That’s been big.”
With over 450 girls set to hit the stage at the Xtream Arena on Friday to start the two-day tournament, Clark is excited for the opportunity to take the mat.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity that God has blessed me with,” Clark said. “Each day is a new day and God has blessed me with time on the mat, with my family and friends and coaches.”
Fifteen other Wildcats will join Clark on the mat in Coralville. Action begins on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Saturday’s session will begin at 10 a.m. inside Xtream Arena.
Lillian Morey (106), Brett Harklau (120), Claire Weydert (132), Deni McDaniel (132) and Kali Beaman (145) all have double-digit victories for Humboldt.
Freshman Evelyn Kramer has compiled a 16-4 record for South Central Calhoun and will compete at 106 pounds.
East Sac County has three girls competing, led by Kiersten Carroll (8-1) and Olivia Villegas (12-4).
Algona will have four girls in action.
AREA GIRL STATE WRESTLING QUALIFIERS
Fort Dodge — Alexis Ross (132), so., 8-0; Darylinn Cook (113), fr., 2-1.
St. Edmond — Elly Berry (132), jr., 6-2.
Humboldt — Mia Harris (106), so., 4-4; Lillian Morey (106), fr., 11-6; Abi Satern (113), sr., 2-16; Kylie Moser (113), sr., 3-5; Brett Harklau (120), jr., 11-7; Mya Vote (120), fr., 3-10; Lexi Roberts (126), fr., 1-8; Baylie Beers (126), so., 7-6; Claire Weydert (132), fr., 10-8; Deni McDaniel (132), sr., 15-8; Kali Beaman (145), so., 10-6; Alondra Torres (145), sr., 2-7; Alexa Hemmelrick (152), sr., 3-12; Maria Elizondo (160), jr., 8-6; Kendal Clark (170), sr., 9-1; Jasmin Zinnel (195), fr., 0-8.
South Central Calhoun — Evelyn Kramer (106), fr, 16-4.
East Sac County — Kiersten Carrol (113), so., 8-1; Olivia Villegas (126), so., 12-4; Chloe Cornelius (145), so., 1-4.
Algona — Eliza Schultz (113), so., 1-1; Radaisvyi Thomas (113), jr., 3-1; Sydney Casey (126), so., 0-0; Sophie Degner (152), jr., 5-0.