MI’s Woods snags state wrestling crown

Middle-schooler wins big at Tacoma Dome.

Emerson Woods was a true mat demon while engaging in some grappling action at the recent Washington State Wrestling Folkstyle Championships.

The 13-year-old Islander Middle School (IMS) athlete blasted by four opponents at the prestigious tournament to notch the 121-pound middle school girls crown on Feb. 18 at the Tacoma Dome. Eighth-grader Woods garnered her first folkstyle title and state championship at the event, which occurred the day after high-schoolers battled it out on the colorful sea of wrestling squares at the Mat Classic XXXV state gathering.

Woods owned a 4-0 record, including two pins, at the tourney to grab first place. The Mat Demon Wrestling Club (Kent) member defeated Xela Kowoosh of Maddogs Wrestling (Aberdeen), 12-3, in the final to close out her epic day on the mats at about 8 p.m. Woods kicked things off with her first match at 2 p.m.

“I was really happy that all my hard work has finally paid off and I had finally been getting some big success out of it,” said Woods. “I think one of the biggest things was being on offense and wrestling my moves and really trying to be aggressive.”

After snagging the first takedown against Kowoosh, Woods rolled from there to claim victory. Woods’ confidence outweighed her nervousness and tiredness when she burst into action against her tough opponent in the final.

Moves that worked in Woods’ favor throughout the day were three-quarter stacks and high crotch and double leg takedowns.

Coach Jess Torres, the president of Mat Demon, noted about his champion: “Emerson winning her state title is an accomplishment that was achieved by her hard work and dedication to the sport of wrestling. She’s a very disciplined wrestler who works tirelessly to improve her technique. She has a very bright future moving into her high school years.”

Woods, who wrestled against boys to win the 120-pound title for IMS in the Triangle League championships in December, is set to continue traversing her wrestling road from middle school to Mercer Island High School next season.

“I’m really excited for high school. I have a lot of friends who wrestle from other schools that I’ll be able to see at tournaments more,” said Woods, who took up the sport nearly two years ago after excelling in the gymnastics realm.

In addition to shining at the folkstyle and middle school tourneys, Woods triumphed at the Snoqualmie Valley tournament and the Salt Lake Slam.

The teen feels it’s the perfect time to be involved in the upswing of women’s wrestling, which the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics recently recommended to become a championship sport in the winter of 2026, according to the NCAA site.

Torres feels the women’s college wrestling movement was long overdue.

“It’s a testament of a lot of hard work by many who felt it was time to include the ladies in the sport we are so passionate about. We hope to see more collegiate opportunities for ladies wrestling. We at Mat Demon Wrestling Club are huge advocates for women’s wrestling,” said Torres, adding that the club has produced plenty of state champions and a few Pan Am international champions.

Woods is fully devoted to putting her maximum effort into wrestling in the coming years. She’d like to rack up pins and takedowns through college and sees her ultimate goal of grappling for the worlds team and in the Olympics.

“I think I just have to keep working really hard, showing up to practice. Even if the practice partners that I do want aren’t there, just to get in there, put my head down and just work hard,” Woods said. “I think that’s pretty much the ultimate key to being good at anything.”