SALINA – All she does is win, win, win.
On Thursday at the KSHSAA 4-1A girls state wrestling championships, Rossville sophomore Kendra Hurla had one of her few full matches of the season in the 120-pound weight class title match.
Hurla won her second straight state wrestling title at the girls state wrestling tournament at Salina’s Tony’s Pizza Events Center by a 3-0 decision over Pratt’s Jadyn Thompson.
Hurla was ranked the No. 1 wrestler in the 120-poind class in the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association heading into the state tournament and had to battle through the second-ranked wrestler in the state in a championship contest that went the distance. The difference was a takedown in the first period and escape in the second after choosing the down position.
In addition, Hurla becomes the first girl in the Rossville girls wrestling program to be a two-time champion. That means something because the girls program at Rossville is only in its second year. Two for two for Hurla.
“It feels nice to stand back up on that podium,” Hurla said. “I don’t have any words for it. It’s nice because that match I definitely worked for it.”
Kendra Hurla faced pressure to repeat
Rossville wrestling coach Courtney Horgan said he and Hurla had talked about the pressure of repeating as a state champion. Last year, Hurla went 26-2 on her way to winning a state title as a freshman.
From her journey as a manager in middle school to her finally joining and starting to wrestle, Horgan had high praise for the youngster.
“She’s the best in the business, man,” Horgan said. “I think there was some pressure on her that she put on herself, and that’s part of the game. We talked a little bit about that pressure and how you handle that pressure, and she’s done well with it. She really has.”
Hurla finished the season with another medal around her neck and a perfect 43-0 record in her sophomore season along with 36 pins. She made the state tournament look easy, too, with takedowns in all three of her matches leading up the eventual to-the-distance championship bout.
“I’m so proud, man,” Horgan said. “That girl works harder than anybody. We put her through the ringer in our rooms. She eats up every minute of it. This is well-deserved right here.
“She hasn’t been through many six-minute matches this year, but I had no doubts that she was going to be fine gas-tank-wise because she works so hard. Nobody deserves more than that girl.
The biggest theme for the Rossville wrestling program is family. Hurla said people know the term is used all the time in sports but don’t know the full meaning behind it when it comes to sports until they experience it.
“I’d say my team is the best family you can have, besides blood-related,” Hurla said. “There in that room, you know that no one is getting out of work. So, no one is skipping around, and I think that really helps us grow together.”
Horgan said when he asked his wrestlers what their favorite thing was about this season, he said they said it’s the family culture.
“We’ve got something pretty special in Rossville,” Horgan said. “These guys love each other, they work hard for each other. They beat each other up in the room, but when practice is over, they’re back to family.”
Billy Watson is the sports reporter for The Hutchinson News and has been in Kansas since March 2021. To reach out about story ideas, you can send an email to [email protected] or send a direct message on Twitter @hutchsports or @billywatson4l.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Rossville’s Kendra Hurla wins 2nd Kansas girls state wrestling title