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The Vikings girls return three state placers and have a young group of talent to mix-in.

COURTESY PHOTO - Members of the Forest Grove girls wrestling team pose for a photo after their tournament in Warrenton. Back row left to right: Maricela Bedolla, Ella Taplin, Makaila Takahashi, Kennedy Blanton, Bella Garza, Jasmine Hopkins, Coach Siciliano. Front row left to right: Ava Henkemeyer, Kailea Takahashi.Last spring, the Forest Grove girls wrestling team boasted three state placers, including a state champion.

But with all three returning, along with a handful of burgeoning mat combatants in the mix, this year's Vikings have their sights set even higher than last year's success.

"Some days, I think we could seriously win a state championship, because we've got some talent," Forest Grove head wrestling coach Guy Takahashi said. "You can't win it with just three, but if you bring two or three more that can score legitimate points, you have a legitimate shot. So, it depends upon the development of others, but it'll be fun regardless and they have a shot of making a big statement this year."

Leading the way will be senior Makaila Takahashi, who in just her second year of wrestling won a state title at 135 pounds. Now, with another year of experience under her belt, Coach Takahashi — who's also Makaila's father — said she's poised to be even better in what will be her final year of high school competition before heading to Pacific University, where she's committed to wrestle and play soccer for the Boxers next fall.

"She's gotten so much better," the coach said. "She's such an intellect of the sport that she picks everything up so well. It's now my job to help her continue to get better and get her ready for college."

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove junior Jasmine Hopkins wrestles during a match earlier this season. Hopkins is one of a Forest Grove girls wrestling team competing for a state title this season.Makaila Takahashi chose Pacific over a number of other suitors. She says she wants to help build the program in Forest Grove.

Since her arrival at Forest Grove High School, the girls soccer team has steadily improved, even making it to the state semifinals this past fall. She's hoping to have a similar impact for the Boxers both on the pitch and the mat.

"She really wanted to play both sports and Pacific offered her that opportunity," Guy Takahashi said of Makaila. "But she also really wants to help build the programs like she's been a part of at Forest Grove."

In addition to Makaila Takahashi, the Vikings return senior Ella Taplin (190) and junior Jasmine Hopkins (155), both of which placed fourth at last year's state tournament.

Taplin, Guy Takahashi said, has a rare combination of size and speed, possessing the ability to both overpower girls and beat them with athleticism, while Hopkins he said has impressed him with her maturation over the last couple of years. The coach said she wrestled a bit in middle school and as a freshman at the high school, but over the past two years has really advanced.

"She has this unbelievable flexibility that can bail her out," Guy Takahashi said, "But I convinced her to stop flopping and to wrestle, and she's really starting to do well. Plus, she's really tough."

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove's Ella Taplin placed fourth at last year's state championships and is aiming higher this season.The coach also mentioned freshmen Kennedy Blanton (135) and Kailea Takahashi (125), the former of which placed first at the Warrenton Girls Open, while the latter was second at the event Dec. 10 at Warrenton High School. Also at Warrenton, the Vikes boasted Makaila Takahashi and Taplin winning the 145 and 190 pound weight divisions, Hopkins (155) placing second, Marciela Bedolla (115) third, and Isabella Garza (120) fifth.

It's that type of depth that has Guy Takahashi excited, and with standouts mentoring girls throughout the team, he believes that by the end of the year they could really be a force to be reckoned with.

"We have legitimate standouts, and they're making the girls around them really tough," the coach said. "Even our less experienced girls are wrestling really talented girls every day in practice, so if they don't know enough yet, they'll know quite a bit by the end of the season."

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