First of the first

Senior Jannell Avila competed in the first ever girls’ wrestling sanctioned state tournament.


Sidney Tranel

Jannell Avila pins her opponent during the state wrestling tournament.

Jannell Avila ’23 was a well-known wrestler in Iowa for years before girls’ wrestling was sanctioned in the state. As a freshman, Avila won the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association State Tournament at 138 pounds while at Lisbon High School. Since then she’s gotten third and second in her sophomore and junior years respectively.

Jannell Avila ’23 shakes hands with her opponent during the first day of matches of the state tournament. (Sidney Tranel)

Finally, in her senior year, she participated in the first-ever sanctioned Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union State Tournament at Xtream Arena Feb. 2 and 3. In front of a sold-out crowd, Avila pinned her way to the semifinals, where she avenged a loss from regionals a week before, pinning Keeley Kehrli of East Buchanan in 5:49.

Avila advanced to the 155-pound title match with a 31-2 record against undefeated freshman Skylar Slade of Southeast Polk. After a back-and-forth match, Avila lost by fall.

While the outcome wasn’t a championship, Avila became West’s first wrestler to secure a medal at the IGHSAU State Wrestling Tournament.