KOKOMO — Arabian wrestlers Kasey Cruse and Meranda Robinette represented Pendleton Heights in the Indiana Girls State Wrestling Finals in Kokomo Jan. 14.
While Robinette (152) did not advance to the final rounds, Cruse (170) came away with a seventh-place podium finish.
This was Cruse’s first time at the state meet. She wrestled a half-season two years ago, but this was her first full season of competition.
“It was much more than I expected,” Cruse said. “I didn’t expect to make it that far.”
The experience of wrestling at the state level gave Cruse more than a medal.
“I learned how tough I am and how strong I am.”
She said the lessons learned in wrestling will serve her the rest of her life.
Cruse’s state appearance came by way of a third-place finish in the regional a week before. Robinette finished sixth to earn her way to the state.
Girls coach and Arabian Assistant Coach Katie Kriebel said the two seniors’ appearance in state competition is even bigger than the meet itself.
“Girls wrestling is exciting,” Kriebel said. “The level of attendance at state just blew it out of the water.”
While girls wrestling is not yet IHSAA sanctioned, the programs all over the state are growing and the separate events for the girls are very competitive.
“They have this hunger to learn and discover a strength they never knew they had. We’re committed to building a program,” Kriebel said. “I’m so proud. It’s a big deal to be named All-State.”
Cruser and Robinette are seniors, but the Arabians have a freshman and sophomore in the program.
Kriebel said she’s dedicated to attracting more girls to the program. Part of that is designating Monday nights as girls wrestling night, open to any girl interested in wrestling. She said she hopes this will not only attract more Arabians but also grow the sport overall.