For the first time in state history, the Alabama High School Athletic Association held the Girl’s State Wrestling Championship on Jan. 22 and Enterprise’s very own Evelyn Holmes-Smith captured the state title in the 105-pound division.
Holmes-Smith and teammate Loriah Castro were the lone representatives of Enterprise High School to compete at the tournament among 74 girls from across the state, and both captured top 5 finishes with Castro coming in fourth place in the 130-pound division.
“I really can’t complain, they both went out there and competed and gave all they had,” Enterprise coach Matt Pipkins said. “I’m super proud of both of them.”
In Alabama there aren’t enough girls competing in wrestling to have a separate girls sport, so all year long they compete against the boys. Both Castro and Holmes-Smith have had successful 2020 seasons. Holmes-Smith has gone 22-2 during the regular season facing primarily boys. She entered the historic inaugural AHSAA Girls State Championship as the No. 1 seed in the 105-pound division.
Holmes-Smith earned a bye – as the top seed – in the first round and then tore through the quarterfinals with a 15-second pinfall win over Thompson’s Kaylan Brown. In the semifinals, Holmes-Smith earned a pinfall over Emily Hill of Deshler before capturing the state championship over Central-Phenix City’s Mariah Jones via pifnall.
Holmes-Smith’s state title is the first state championship of any kind won by an Enterprise wrestler but Holmes-Smith is no stranger to titles. The eighth grade grappler has won two youth national championships in the past.
“When kids come up from middle school to varsity like that it’s a bigger stage and it’s tough but she’s handled it very well,” Pipkins said of Holmes-Smith. “She just goes out there and does her thing.
“She’s never intimidated by anybody. She just goes out and wrestles. It’s a huge step for someone at the middle school level to come up to varsity and compete and not be afraid of anybody.”
Castro defeated Thompson’s Elyssa Martin by pinfall in the first round but stumbled against Tuscaloosa County’s Raya Carpenter in the quarterfinals losing by pinfall. Castro bounced back to earn a pinfall over Thompson’s Elyssa Martin in the consolation bracket’s first round and then a pinfall over Thompson’s Natalee Black in the second round.
In the semifinals of the consolation bracket, Castro pinned Russell County’s Tatianna Bulens but ultimately fell in the third place match to Oak Mountain’s Kathryn Alvis by pinfall.
“I thought she did well,” Pipkins said of Castro. “I think she kind of got her own way in the first loss but after that she bounced back quickly and left it all out there. I’m really proud of both of them.”