WINCHESTER — The inaugural Umpqua Community College women’s wrestling team, under the direction of Asia DeWeese, hosted its first meet of the 2017-18 season on Saturday afternoon.
Eastern Oregon University of La Grande visited and showed a little more technique and experience than the Riverhawks, winning all but one match.
But it was an exciting day nonetheless for UCC, which added women’s and men’s wrestling, women’s and men’s cross country and obstacle course racing to its athletic program this school year. Those sports join volleyball, and women’s and men’s basketball.
It was the second competition of the season for the women’s wrestling team, which opened its season Oct. 14 in Aberdeen, Washington, against Grays Harbor and Warner Pacific.
DeWeese, a 1989 graduate of Sutherlin High School, is a professor at UCC. She owns a wrestling background; she was on the first U.S. women’s national team that competed in the world championships and was a silver medalist at worlds in ‘89.
“It’s awesome,” DeWeese said following the meet. “For some of these girls, this is the first time they’ve had a freestyle match. They mostly wrestled collegiate in high school. I think we have huge potential. We’re young ... we’re building a team up this first year and I’m happy about it.”
The Riverhawks had four women in action against Eastern Oregon, with two not available to wrestle.
“I think we did much better (than the first meet),” DeWeese said. “A lot of girls who were more timid last weekend were circling more, taking more shots this week. The improvement I saw from their first match to the second match is dramatic.”
The all-freshman UCC roster consists of 116-pounder Jennifer Molinero, from Salinas, California; Moira Sheldon (123), from Kotzebue, Alaska; Pamela Beans (136), out of Sitka, Alaska; Saskia Vanderhoff (143), out of Liberty High School in Hillsboro; Maricela Ferreitz (155), from Tracy, California; and Victoria White (170), from Ripon, California.
“For starters, we’re doing OK,” said Sheldon, who was a two-time Alaska state champion. “It was fun today. We need to work more on conditioning. We’re building the team. It’s pretty small, but we’re all working hard.”
“It’s going really good,” added Vanderhoff. “I think we battled good (last week). I’m happy with where I’m at. I need to keep working on technique, keep driving, doing drills live.”
Vanderhoff, who started wrestling in middle school, has been the Riverhawks’ most successful performer so far. She won both her matches last week and was 1-1 Saturday, beating Renay Monohan 11-2 in an exhibition.
“My brothers wrestled and it caught my eye,” Vanderhoff said. “I always wanted to do it. I started wrestling in sixth grade and got third against the boys, then I stopped to cheer. I picked it up my junior year (in high school) ... I got second at state and tore my ACL my senior year, so I had to take a break.
“But my knee feels really good. I just need to work on conditioning.”
Sheldon was asked her impressions of the area and the school during her short time in Roseburg.
“It’s nice here. It’s really pretty,” she said. “Classes are going great, I’m staying on top of things and giving my best. The wrestling scholarship and nursing program are what brought me here.”
DeWeese’s plan in year one is pretty simple.
“I want to see all these girls get better,” she said. “For me, a big part of this is to provide an education and opportunity for these girls. We’ve already started recruiting for next year. This year I didn’t start recruiting until the summer which put me a little behind.”
The UCC men’s wrestling program, which was eliminated in the early 1980s, is back. The Riverhawks, guided by Kyle Temple, held an intersquad wrestle-off following the women’s meet.
The men open their season Oct. 28 at Lassen C.C. The Riverhawks will meet Clackamas Dec. 15 in their home opener.