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Terese Korpela, a junior this year, gets along well with teammates and her coach, Greg Gadbois.

COURTESY PHOTO: AMY GADBOIS  - Terese Korpela, a junior at St. Helens High School, enjoys wrestling competition.  Wrestling is a well-established prep sport at high schools, but more girls are catching on to the individual nature of the sport, and at St. Helens High School, Terese Korpela is finding the sport challenging and fun.

Korpela, who is a junior this year, developed an early interest in wrestling.

"Nobody in my family is really into athletics, especially not wrestling," Korpela said. "I started wrestling when I was in seventh grade … I ended up sticking with it for way longer than I thought I would."

Korpela, who has lived in St. Helens her entire life, pointed out the training regimen for wrestling as it compares with team sports, such as football and basketball.

"It's a lot of conditioning," she said. "What's nice about it is that you don't really have to be a super athlete to be good at wrestling."

Korpela continued, "Our practices are mostly just technique and conditioning. With wrestling you really do have to work to do well."

She gives a lot of credit to her coach, Greg Gadbois, who also coaches the boy wrestlers.

"I really appreciate Greg as a coach," she said. "I'm very grateful to have a coach like Greg, because he is very welcoming and he really promotes family and a good work ethic. He gives so much of his personal time to the team."

Noting that some kids don't have the best home life, Korpela said, "They look at Greg as a sort of role model. He really fits that persona, I think."

Team cohesion is important to Korpela, who gets along with her fellow wrestlers.

"A lot of us spent at least five days a week together, year-round," Korpela said. "We see each other sometimes more than we see our real family. Everybody loves each other, regardless."

With the COVID-19 pandemic, her wrestling team had to cope with summer competition last season.

"Last season, we were not expecting to have a season at all," Korpela said. "It did get pushed into summer so we ended up wrestling in the middle of July. We were not expecting a season last season. It was only about six weeks long. We definitely are very excited to get back to a regular schedule."

Korpela pointed out a couple of her Lady Lions teammates.

"Kate Leonard (sophomore) is definitely one of the most skilled girls on our team," Korpela said. "Natassa Schmitt is a senior. She actually plays football. This is her first year. She is dominating. It's pretty impressive to watch."

Korpela looks ahead to some tough competition.

"Hillsboro is going to be tough, at least for our girls," she said. "Hillsboro has, I think, one of the biggest girls teams in the state. They have a very impressive program."

And then there's the rivalry matchup against Scappoose, taking place Jan. 6.

"We're looking forward to it being pretty close," Korpela said, speaking of Scappoose. "But I think we're definitely going to come out on top, girls and boys."

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