Smith wins Boyle girls’ first state wrestling title

Published 12:35 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

Lyla Smith wants as many state championships as she can get her hands on, but she won’t get another like this one.

The Boyle County eighth-grader became part of the first group of champions Saturday when the KHSAA held its inaugural girls state wrestling championships at Alltech Arena in Lexington.

Smith won the 114-pound class at the KHSAA State Wrestling Championships, completing her rise to the top of the sport in only her second season.

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“It feels pretty good since I’ve just put in a good amount of work in getting that result,” Smith said.

Smith said it’s also significant to win at the first girls state championships sanctioned by the state athletic association.

“It’s special,” she said. “Now we have regionals, where last year all the girls were at state. It kind of felt like more of an accomplishment.”

She said she believes her victory will motivate her toward more success in coming seasons.

“I feel like it will because my goal is to be a five-time state champion, and I’m going to continue to work as hard as possible,” Smith said.

Smith is one of five girls from local schools – four from Boyle and one from Danville – who earned medals in the KHSAA’s first girls competition, which replaced a state tournament conducted by the coaches association since 2019.

A school-record six boys from Boyle also won medals Friday during their portion of the state tournament, led by Kaygen Roberts (132 pounds) and Micah Thompson (144), who finished third in their classes.

Smith, who did not qualify for the coaches’ state tournament in 2023, defeated Juliette Ruiz of Ballard by major decision in her championship match to complete a 4-0 run in this year’s tournament. Her 13-2 win avenged a similarly lopsided loss to Ruiz earlier this season.

“My finals match was a little nerve-wracking because I’d wrestled her once before and she actually beat me pretty good,” Smith said. “I was kind of scared because she almost caught me (early in the match), but I was lucky.

“I was so overwhelmed (at the final whistle) because it’s kind of crazy to think I’m a state champion now.”

Smith came out for wrestling last season at the urging of two friends.

“I was kind of questioning it at first because I’d never thought about wrestling at all … but I really liked it and I had a lot of fun,” she said.

She said she improved this season with a summer of weightlifting and another year of work on technique.

Other Boyle girls who earned state medals were:

  • Alyssa Pinkston, fourth at 185 pounds.
  • Makyla Fowler, eighth at 132.
  • Porter Tagarook, eighth at 285.

The Boyle girls finished seventh in the team standings.

“Even though we didn’t place in the top five, I feel like we did really good,” Smith said. “We’ve grown so much as a team.”

Ella Sadler of Danville also medaled with a sixth-place finish at 165 pounds.

In the boys tournament, Thompson reached the semifinals and Roberts advanced to the quarterfinals in their classes, and both recovered from losses to finish third.

Other Boyle boys who earned state medals were:

  • Jackson Burger, sixth at 190 pounds.
  • Dakota Phillips, seventh at 113.
  • Jax Crowe, seventh at 175.
  • Jaimen Carey, eighth at 157.

Boyle finished eighth in the boys team standings, five places higher than last season.