Elsbury makes history at STC

South Tama freshman, Maeley Elsbury, competed at the IWCOA Girls State Wrestling Tournament last weekend at the Xstream Arena in Coralville. Photo Courtesy of CJ Eilers/Vinton Newspapers

History was made at South Tama over the weekend as the STC Trojan wrestling team sent the school’s first female wrestler to the IWCOA Girls State Wrestling Tournament Friday and Saturday.

Maeley Elsbury, a freshman for the Trojans, traveled to Coralville to compete alongside an overall field of 500 wrestlers from all corners of the state.

Elsbury, who wrestled at 126, arrived at the Xstream Arena Friday with coaches Nate Van Dyke, Jason Arp and Steve Chyma.

Van Dyke was thrilled to take part in the first trip for STC to the IWCOA tournament and has been pleased with Maeley’s dedication to the sport.

“She has inspired all of her coaches and teammates,” Van Dyke said. “Maeley is super tough. She understands what it takes to improve and compete. Those are things that are hard to teach. She doesn’t get rattled, and she has confidence in her conditioning. She has already made history, but the sky’s the limit as far as her future in the sport.”

Elsbury’s first order of business was to find someone to warm up with. That proved a bit challenging as she was the only wrestler attending from her school. She also needed to find someone a weight class up from her so she wouldn’t be warming up with someone she was competing against. After a warm up partner was located and the pre-match routine was complete, it was time to get the wrestling started.

Tournament Results

Elsbury was seeded 5th to start the tournament which left her with a bye in the first round.

She was able to watch her competition, Jessica Guerroro from Clarke/Osceola/Murray wrestle her first match, which provided some valuable insight ahead of their second round bout.

Elsbury won the match over Guerroro with a pin (1:19).

She went on to face Alexis Winkey of Ames. Elsbury won again by fall (3:23).

In the quarterfinals match on Saturday, Elsbury faced Avery Meier of Waverly-Shell Rock. Meier was seeded right in front of Elsbury and had pinned everyone she wrestled Friday. It was a close match but Meier came out ahead 3-1.

Elsbury moved to the consolation bracket to face Anna Sondall of Boone. Caught in a throw, Elbury was pinned by Sondall.

Elsbury was hoping to place at the tournament but was still happy with her performance.

“It was a cool experience and definitely something new,” she said.

Family Support

Remarkably, this is Elsbury’s first season ever wrestling but she is no stranger to the sport. Her Dad, Danny Elsbury, was a state qualifier for the STC Trojans in the early 2000’s.

He currently assists as a coach with the Trojan Warrior Elite youth wrestling club. It was also her Dad who was hesitant to let Maeley try out the sport for herself just because he didn’t want her to get hurt.

Maeley was able to convince her dad due to the growth of the sport with girls in the state. In fact, over the past five years the sport has grown at the high school level from 67 to 683 female wrestlers. Maeley’s parents Danny and Brintley are both very supportive of her decision.

“For my first year they were happy with how I did. They love coming to our events and this year has been harder because they haven’t been allowed to come to everything with COVID,” Elsbury said.

Maeley told her Dad she would be wrestling mostly girls and so far she has, with one exception.

Elsbury wrestled a JV match the night STC hosted Solon. She faced Grant Bumsted and won 14-11.

As for her coach’s thoughts of her first trip to state, Van Dyke was proud.

“She has come a long way from someone who was on the fence about joining the sport a couple months ago. I am proud of not only the successes she has had, but also her character, work ethic, and dedication. It has been a pleasure for everyone on our coaching staff to be a part of her growth,” he said.

Teammates and goals

Maeley credits her teammates whom she practices with for helping getting her to the point she is at.

While Maeley was on the mat wrestling the first boy she has faced this season, her teammates were cheering her on. When she won, many of them got up to greet her and congratulate her as she came off the mat.

“It was nice because they have helped me get to that point. They are all very helpful and they teach me things.”

The sport of wrestling is tough and that’s exactly why Elsbury likes it.

“It definitely pushes you to get your body in shape more than any other sport. Something that’s helpful for me is that I wrestle all boys in practice. It’s hard because they are stronger,” she said.

As for getting more girls out for the sport, she’s asked friends but hasn’t had any luck yet as she remains the lone girl on the team this season.

“It’s harder than any sport they have done so they don’t think they can do it,” she said.

The Trojans welcomed their first female wrestler, Ashton Graham to the team three years ago. Morgan Woosley wrestled for the Trojans last year.

“(Having girls out) is good for the sport. Having the opportunity to take Maeley to state this year was eye opening. It was a great event. It felt like being at any other state tournament,” Van Dyke said.

After this season wraps, Maeley has plans to compete at AAU Girls State.

Thinking further into the future, she hopes to get back to IWCOA Girls State next year and hopefully place and one year even win it all.

“Hopefully it is just the start. Maeley will be a great ambassador for future Trojans female wrestlers,” Van Dyke said.