Wrestling: Creek’s Roehl places fifth at Estonia
Through two seasons of varsity wrestling, Johnson Creek sophomore Mateah Roehl has compiled a respectable 37-25 record wrestling at 106 pounds. Most of her opponents were boys.
Against girls, Roehl happens to be ridiculously good.
A lifelong youth wrestler growing up who won three state tournament titles, Roehl went farther afield to prove herself as she got older. Last year, she placed sixth at the Oklahoma folkstyle nationals.
Last October, Roehl was selected to represent the United States on its annual World Wrestling Tour. The team traveled to Talinn, Estonia from March 26 through April 8.
Wrestlers were chosen based on having reputations as good students and dedicated athletes who would serve as positive ambassadors for their sport, their school and their country.
Roehl, a high honor roll student at Johnson Creek High School, made the most of her selection by reaching the awards podium at the Talinn Open. She placed fifth in a field a female wrestlers from 27 countries in what is touted as Europe’s largest youth wrestling tournament. Team USA won the tournament by a 52-point margin with a 171 score.
“It was awesome,” Roehl said. “My teammates were a really good group of people. They were like me — really positive, wanting to get better, wanting to do good and work hard. We had fun doing it. I definitely see myself going back to that tournament next year.”
Roehl cut down to 46 kilograms (101 pounds) for the competition.
“The day of weigh-ins, I had to run and sit in the sauna for a little bit,” she said.
Roehl welcomed the chance to once again take on elite wrestlers of her own gender, this time taking on not just the best in the U.S., but the best in the world.
“It was a really nice feeling,” she said. “The competition was tough. Their wrestling is different. It’s more slow paced and technical. In America, it’s more fast paced. We don’t focus as much on technique as much as … whatever happens, happens.
“The girls looked like boys, but they weren’t as strong as boys. By cutting weight, I had an advantage. It’s a lot more fun. I can focus more on technique and have a way better match. Boys can overpower me. With girls, it’s more like a scramble.”
Roehl has always had an aggressive shooting style. In one of the matches at the tournament, she got in on an opponent’s legs and quickly rolled her through four times. Talk about a rough carnival ride.
“I was dizzy after it,” Roehl said.
Estonia, an eastern European country bordered by Latvia and Russia, is one of three Baltic states which is roughly the size of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, with a population of 1.3 million.
In addition to visiting Estonia’s most famed attractions, members trained with wrestlers from several countries in freestyle wrestling and participated in a wrestling tournament with 2,000 competitors from dozens of countries.
They visited historical locations, and experienced different cultures, languages and foods.
“We stayed in the capitol (Talinn), which actually has an old town and a new town,” Roehl said. “The new town was like Italy, so pretty. We visited a cathedral where you couldn’t take pictures. It was super calming and really relaxing. That was my favorite thing. The culture was weird. They were so calm, compared to America. They weren’t in a rush. The food, some of it was really gross, but their pizza was so good. It had less cheese and more pepperoni.”
In another memorable side trip, the coaches and wrestlers went to the Baltic Sea.
“Our coaches told us it was good luck for six months of wrestling if you jumped in, so we all jumped in,” Roehl said. “The water was 50 degrees. It was freezing.”
Six months from now, Roehl will be gearing up for her third varsity season, back with the boys. Rather than rely on luck, she’ll continue to hit the weights and push the pace to limit any natural advantages her adversaries have.
“My goal for next year is to make it to state,” she said. “One of the things I have struggled with is getting into the right mindset. Before my matches, I get super nervous and doubt myself. I’ve learned to be mentally strong and want to go out there and win.”