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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Women’s wrestling national championships return to Spokane; three-time state champ Libby Roberts sets sights on Team USA

For the second year in a row, the country’s top female wrestlers will compete in Spokane at the 2024 U.S. Marine Corps Women’s National Championships this weekend at the Podium.

Organizers expect 3,200 visitors and more than 1,200 athletes – including local and regional standouts – among them three-time state champion Libby Roberts of University High School, who will compete in the U17 and U20 brackets, according to her high school coach Ryan Montang.

Roberts, a junior, was the 105-pound bracket winner in February at Mat Classic 35 in Tacoma. Her perfect run through the girls 4A/3A bracket culminated with a 50-second pin of Sumner’s Bailee Wagner in the title match. She finished this year’s tournament with four pins in four matches, bringing her Mat Classic career total to 11 pins and one major decision in 12 victories.

Roberts advanced to a semifinal last year before losing to eventual champion Heather Crull from Indiana.

Champions in the U23, U20, U17 and U15 age divisions this weekend are eligible to earn a spot on Team USA for the Pan-Am and World championships later this summer. There are 51 athletes registered in the 10U division; 88 in the 12U division; 173 in the 14U division; 18 in the 8U division; 211 in the U15 division; 404 in the U17 division; 399 in the U20 division; and 180 in the U23 division.

“Having the women’s national championships in Spokane is especially exciting considering the growth of the sport in Washington,” Spokane Sports CEO Ashley Blake said in a release. “The Washington State Wrestling Association has 3,000 registered female athletes – the second-highest participation numbers in the country next to California. To provide Washington athletes a high-level opportunity to compete in our state is tremendous.”

Thirteen mats will be assembled inside the Podium, showcasing the flexibility of the award-winning facility as it transforms into a championship wrestling venue for three days of matches.

Registered athletes represent 44 states, with 157 women coming from California and 139 from Washington.

Last year was the first time The USMC Women’s National Championships were held in the Pacific Northwest. This year’s championships are the second of a three-year commitment for Spokane as the host city. Event organizers expect the local and regional athlete registration numbers to grow this year and in 2025.