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Enterprise wrestler Evelyn Holmes-Smith adds another state title

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prepwrestling PHOTO FOR FRONT

Enterprise High freshman Evelyn Holmes-Smith poses after winning the 116-pound weight class at the Alabama Girls State Championships in Alabaster on Saturday.

Check off another major accomplishment for Enterprise High girls wrestling standout Evelyn Holmes-Smith.

The Wildcat freshman repeated as a state champion Saturday during the 2nd Alabama Girls State Championships at Thompson High School in Alabaster, sweeping through the competition in the 116-pound weight class.

It was the second straight year Holmes-Smith won a state title at the state championships. Last year, she won in the 105-pound weight class. The Enterprise star was one of only four repeat champions from last year’s first state meet.

Holmes-Smith, along with teammate Loriah Castro, who went 2-2 at the 134-pound weight class at the meet, received a championship welcome from the Enterprise wrestling community as well school and church friends upon returning to the campus late Saturday night.

“It feels really good,” Holmes-Smiths said. “I am really proud of the outcome. I have been training hard and I was glad I was able to pull off another championship.”

She said the two state titles feel similar to her.

“I get excited equally the same,” Holmes-Smith said. “I was excited (last night) and excited this morning too.”

Holmes-Smith won her latest title by beating W.S. Neal’s Carlie Tait in the championship on a pin just 45 seconds into the match. Tait, who was a fourth-place finisher at 116 last year, had a reported record of 18-0 going into the finals.

“I just wanted to go out and try my hardest. Give it my all,” Holmes-Smith said of her thoughts before the finals.

In the championship match, Holmes-Smith, wearing Enterprise’s traditional green championship singlet with the E and roaring Wildcat logo, drove Tait from the center of the mat back toward the outer circle at the start as the two locked up in head collar ties. The Wildcat wrestler then popped downward for a successful double-leg takedown, 21 seconds in, for a quick 2-0 lead.

The two, though, went out of bounds a few seconds after the takedown and had to go back to the middle circle for a restart.

Tait worked up to a standing stance off the whistle, but only briefly as Holmes-Smith put her back on the mat. Tait spun around working one leg up, but Holmes-Smith broke her right down to her stomach then worked a half-nelson to roll Wait over and earn the pinfall with just 45 seconds gone in the match.

Though excited, Holmes-Smith had a low-key celebration to winning, showing little emotion as the two shook hands and did the customary handshakes with the opposing coach.

“I don’t like to do too much celebration on the mat.” Holmes-Smith said. “I like to do it off the mat.”

The top seed entering the tournament, Holmes-Smith received a first-round bye in Saturday’s meet before winning consecutive matches on mid-second period pins over Montevallo’s Amylia Thomas (3:01 into the match) and Arab’s Maggie Whitaker (3:02) to reach the finals.

Entering the day, Holmes-Smith felt confident going in, though she didn’t know much about the competition. She had previously faced three girls in her 15-wrestler bracket – Thompson’s Zoey Bair, Sparkman’s Kloe Robb and Daphne’s Sophia Chircop – during a Thanksgiving week tournament at Hewitt-Trussville. Tait, however, knocked off Chircop and Bair in the quarterfinals and semifinals opposite the EHS wrestler and Arab’s Whitaker defeated Robb right before facing Holmes-Smith.

“I felt pretty good.” Holmes-Smith said of her pre-match mindset. “I was seeded No. 1, so that made me feel better. I really didn’t really know anybody in my bracket, but I wasn’t too worried about it. I just go in there and wrestle.”

In her opening match against Montevallo’s Thomas, Holmes-Smith was aggressive at the start, shooting in and quickly working around her opponent to earn a takedown just seven seconds into contest.

“I wanted to be very aggressive because a lot of girls go for the headlock and sometimes I can get caught in that, but I didn’t want to be at Girls State and get caught in a headlock,” Holmes-Smith said. “Everyone was hitting it (the headlock in early matches). You don’t want to get that one girl that is strong and flips it (to put an opponent on the back).”

A minute later, the Wildcat star turned Thomas on her back off a half-nelson/arm bar combination with 40 seconds left in the period and earned a three-point near fall. Thomas kept bridging up and eventually rolled over to her stomach to end the near fall situation.

“I thought I had a pin, but I don’t know how we were turning,” Holmes-Smith said. “We were sliding in a whole circle.”

Thomas was able to work her way off the mat and up for a one-point escape, but Holmes-Smith worked in another shot for another takedown right before the period ended to extend her advantage to 7-1.

Holmes-Smith had the choice of position to start the second period and chose the neutral position. It didn’t take long to earn a takedown, doing so in 20 seconds. She then worked Thomas on her back and eventually finished off the pin about 15 seconds later.

Arab’s Whitaker was next. Like she did in the other matches, Holmes-Smith got a takedown in the first 20 seconds to seize a 2-0 lead. Whitaker, though, was able to avoid getting turned and the opening period ended with no more scoring.

Holmes-Smith again had the choice to start the second period and choose bottom on advice from EHS assistant coach Willie Fells.

“Coach Willie told me to hit a (defensive) switch right off the bat,” Holmes-Smith said.

She executed the switch perfectly and swiftly off the whistle, earning a two-point reverse just three seconds into the second period to build a 4-0 advantage.

Holmes-Smith attempted several pinning combinations, including a cradle and barbwire, with little success before working in a three-fourths nelson – one of her more recent favorite moves – and powered Whitaker over for a pin.

“I can put my foot in there (over their leg) and if I am good at the pressure (at the top), it is hard for them to get out of,” Holmes-Smith said of her three-fourths nelson. “It is harder to do it on guys because they are way stronger. On girls, I able to do it.”

With her second state title now in place, Holmes-Smith is set to concentrate on the remaining Enterprise High wrestling schedule before focusing on her next milestone goals at several major national events.

She plans to compete May 7-9 at the Girls World Team Freestyle Championship Trials in Irving, Texas, seeking to win a spot on the USA’s U15 Pan-American Championships in Mexico City, Mexico (October 21-24th) or on a Team USA spot on the Cadet Pan-American Championships in either Buenos Aires, Argentina (June 9-13) or Cadet World Championships in Budapest, Hungary (July 19-25).

She also is hoping to earn a spot on the Alabama roster for the Fargo Nationals (United States) meet (July 15-22) in Fargo, N.D. She also hopes wrestle at the Super 32 Championships in October.

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