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District 51's McNeil, who commutes from Glenwood Springs, wins title at MLK Invitational

Adalee McNeil has sacrificed a lot just to wrestle for the District 51 Phoenix. She was not going to let anyone stop her from winning the MLK Invitational on Saturday at Central High School.

McNeil, who lives and attends high school in Glenwood Springs, was the only one of the combined District 51 schools girls wrestling team to win an individual title, pinning Makala Simpson of Soroco in 3 minutes, 57 seconds in the 185-pound championship.

“No one else took first, so that was a real push for me,” McNeil said. “I really wanted to get first. That was the best match I’ve had this season. Most of my matches, I’ve pinned in the first period.”McNeil (12-1) led the Phoenix to a second-place finish in the 16-team tournament with 106 points. Mead won the team title with 128 points and Fort Lupton was third with 90.

District 51 had nine of their 12 wrestlers place. Apollonia Middleton and Kenya Contreras placed second and Sasha Guerra was third at 215.

“Overall we wrestled well,” District 51 coach Chad Dare said. “We had to call on some JV girls because we had four out (with sickness and other sports). They filled in and scored some points for us. Everybody wrestled tough.”

McNeil is one of the toughest and obviously committed.

“She is a tough kid,” Dare said. “She has a great attitude. She just wants to wrestle. She will wrestle anybody you put in front of her.”

McNeil, a sophomore, wrestled in a middle school pee wee program, but Glenwood Springs does not have a girls wrestling program. Her parents found out about the District 51 program and convinced her to join it. They drive her to practice and back home each evening.

“The first practice was hard because I didn’t wrestle for a year,” McNeil said. “I thought about quitting after the first week. The whole team being very welcoming and the coaches, too — that helped a lot. I’ve made so many new friends.”

Middleton took second place at 127 pounds.

“I’m proud of myself,” Middleton said. “This is my first year wrestling. This is a big accomplishment.

“I’m learning a lot. Wrestling is hard work. I played soccer my whole life. Coach (Dare) is my best friend’s dad. He always said I should wrestle. My friends have started wrestling, too.”

The Fruita Monument junior reached the championship match with a 2-1 ultimate tiebreaker victory over Lashya Tijerina of Fort Lupton in the semifinals by escaping from the bottom position.

“That was a long match,” Middleton said of the eight-minute match. “I tried to get an escape point earlier, but I’m glad I pulled through.”

Faye Hackett of Ignacio pinned Middleton in 1:14 in the championship.

Contreras lost a 6-4 decision to Kirsten Davis of Mead in the 147-pound final. Davis had lost to the Central junior in the final match of Friday’s dual-format tournament. Contreras pinned Dayna Almarai of Fort Lupton in 56 seconds in the quarterfinals and Allie Stambaugh of Olathe in 2:39 in the semifinals.

“I’m quite proud of myself,” Contreras said. “I wrestled through some hard spots. It was an off day for me, but I put out a full effort.”

Olathe’s Nicole Koch (17-0) kept her undefeated record intact, pinning her way to the final, where the Delta senior pinned Aubrey Dare of Severance in 3:09.

“I wrestled well,” Koch said. “I only allowed one point when I let a girl stand up.”

Koch, a three-time state champion, pinned her first opponent of Saturday’s tournament in the first period then pinned her semifinal opponent in the second period after building a 9-0 lead.


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