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Sports >  High school sports

2022-23 Winter High School Sports Preview: University wrestler Libby Roberts carrying on family legacy with ease

Dec. 8, 2022 Updated Thu., Dec. 8, 2022 at 1:53 p.m.

By Madison McCord For The Spokesman-Review

There has been no shortage of success for wrestlers with the last name Roberts at University High School.

But Libby Roberts might already be the most dominant of the bunch.

The 105-pound sophomore comes from a prestigious wrestling bloodline, which includes her father and two-time collegiate All-American Kevin Roberts, along with her older brother Drew Roberts, who was a three-time state champion in three different states.

Libby Roberts is well on her way to one-upping both of the boys, though, breezing to a Mat Classic title in Tacoma last year as a freshman.

“The overall atmosphere at State was so cool with the huge dome and the finals walking out with your teammates,” Roberts said. “I feel like it’s a great experience even if you’re just watching it.”

And for those who did watch Roberts, they would have seen quick pins in her first three matches, followed by a 9-0 decision to beat Clarkston’s Calia Rice in the title showdown.

“I honestly don’t remember her dropping a point against a girl last season,” University coach Ryan Montang said. “Her commitment level is pretty unmatched, and when she’s wrestling against girls it’s just dominant.”

What stands out more than the results to Montang though is Roberts’ ability to set the bar higher for the whole team. During the season, Roberts featured as the 106-pounder on the boys varsity team, going an impressive 25-4 with 17 pins.

“Halfway through the season she was added to our varsity boys captains list as a freshman girl,” Montang said. “A lot of that goes back to her commitment level and her ability to lead. She’s the first in the practice room and the last to leave.”

Roberts’ losses – though few and far between – came against some of the toughest opponents in the region, including two losses to Idaho 5A State runner-up Christian Kelly. She also added third-place finishes at both the Inland Empire Invitational and Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic.

“When we have a loss or a setback, me and my coaches go through all the film and really fine tune everything we can find that can make me better,” Roberts said. “It’s all about repetition of the basics for me.”

Those basics have been engrained in her since she started the sport. After finishing his standout career at the University of Oregon, Kevin Roberts went on to be an assistant coach at North Idaho, University of Wyoming, University of Minnesota and Oregon State University. Now, he’s back at his old stamping grounds as an assistant for the Titans.

“Kevin’s got an amazing amount of energy and excitement to bring to this program and you have to have that in a sport like this,” Montang said. “The way he coaches and thinks about the sport meshes perfectly with the rest of our staff. We love collaboratively working and trying to fine-tune things to find ways to be better for the kids.”

For Libby Roberts, having her dad both as a coach and father has only fueled her love of wrestling.

“He’s definitely taught me to work hard and be strong both in athletics and academics,” Libby said. “The father-daughter relationship we have is very, very special. We can just be at home on a weekend and just watch film or talk through ideas.”

After a busy summer of traveling to national tournaments, Roberts’ attention now turns to her second season with the Titans, which begins with the Inland Empire Invitational on Friday and Saturday followed by a titanic Greater Spokane League tilt against defending state champion Mead on Dec. 15.

“I think about everything one match at a time,” Roberts said. “But when I do allow myself to think about the long run, I see myself as a four-time state champion.”

Montang will happily take as much success from Roberts as possible, both to help the team and better the program down the road.

“We haven’t had a lot of girl wrestlers at University, so she’s kind of breaking the mold a bit and paving the way,” Montang said. “She sets such an amazing example for everyone that wrestles for us.

“We have little girls at our club level that just want to be like Libby, so she’s already made a monumental impact on everyone.”

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