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Trio of Tallahassee Girls Join Florida Wrestling's Elite

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Kendal Haynie, Susanna Cheney, and Carey Wesolowski have combined for 9 State Titles since 2020.

The Villages, FL - 622 youth wrestlers from around the state flocked to Central Florida for the IOF State Wrestling Championships on February 18th, vying for the chance to be named the best K-8 wrestler in the State of Florida. 

Susanna Cheney and Kendal Haynie, competing for Grappling House (a Tallahassee Wrestling Club), saw their dreams become reality on Saturday yet again. Their teammate, Carey Wesolowski, fell just short, finishing as State Runner-Up.

While the girls undoubtedly enjoy their success, it may have felt more like Groundhog’s Day than the state wrestling tournament. The trio has combined for a whopping 9 Florida & Georgia State Titles in just the past 4 seasons.

Eleven year-old Cheney has claimed 3 championships. Fourteen year-old Haynie has 4 titles to her name. And, nine year-old Wesolowski boasts 2 titles on her resume.

susanna cheney grappling house wrestling club tallahassee girls female wrestler
Susanna Cheney on top of the podium at the 2024 IOF State Championships

Cheney, a Havana native, started the 2024 State Tournament with a 1st period pin over an opponent from Broward County, collecting the win at the 1:28 mark after racking up 10 points in under 90 seconds.

In her semifinal, she barely broke a sweat while disposing of a Hernando grappler in just 23 seconds. After a quick takedown, Cheney was able to get to her signature move, the crossface cradle, and end the match quickly.

She kept the momentum rolling into her final match, against another talented wrestler from Hernando. The match started out looking to be a tight contest, but Cheney quickly took the front seat with a double leg takedown. After about 30 seconds of working for it, she found her way to the same crossface cradle to collect the pin and the State Title in just 1 minute, 17 seconds.

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Susanna Cheney with her brand new horse.

For Cheney, the Gold medal may be secondary to her ultimate prize.

“Last year, I was motivated by a bet with my dad. I’ve wanted a horse for a long time, and he told me if I win a state title, he’d get me one. I finished 2nd last year and just missed it. This year, I have my horse, but it was still very exciting to win the tournament against some really tough girls.”

Haynie, a Wakulla native, had a similarly dominant day on the mats. Her opening bout, against a wrestler from Miami, was over before it could get started. Haynie quickly earned a takedown before ending it with a pin in just 48 seconds via armbar.

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Kendal Haynie seconds before pinning her opponent to win the IOF State Championship.

In the semifinals, Haynie continued the hot streak as she quickly earned a takedown against a foe from Riverdale. After an attempted escape, Haynie was able to perform her signature technique, the power half, to close out the match in just 54 seconds via pin.

In the finals, Haynie met a multiple time State Champion from Naples, FL. The two have a history, having wrestled one another 3 times in the past year, all narrow victories for Haynie. This one, however, was far more decisive. 15 seconds into the match, Haynie was awarded the only points she’d need via takedown. From there, she methodically worked to turn her opponent to her back via power half, succeeding and winning by pin at the 1:16 mark. 

Haynie was grateful for the opportunity to showcase her skills. “It was another amazing tournament. I was happy to get to compete against some girls I’ve never wrestled before. I’m proud to get Gold in my last youth state tournament before I move onto High School competition,” says Haynie. 

Wesolowski, a Havana native, charged into the State Finals via an 8-7 decision over a wrestler from Jacksonville, and a 1st period pin over a foe from Creeks. 

carey wesolowski grappling house tallahassee havana wrestling club girls wrestler female champion
Carey Wesolowski pinning her opponent enroute to a National Title this past offseason.

In the Championship match, she ran into a talented opponent from Lake Gibson. After trailing by points through one period, Wesolowski was able to lock up her patented crossface cradle, and nearly won the Title early in the second period via pin. In the end, her opponent escaped the hold, and held on for victory. 

While disappointed, Wesolowski understands that she has grown tremendously in the past year, and that this isn’t the end of the road. “This past year, my wrestling has improved more than I thought possible. I know I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. So, I will continue to train with the goal of winning the title next time.”

Grappling House Head Coach, Jason Weslager, speaks very highly of the trio. “I’ve gotten the privilege to watch these 3 blossom from brand new wrestlers to Florida’s elite. It’s happened as a result of work ethic, dedication, and attention to detail. I’m proud of their accomplishments, but I’m not the least bit surprised by them. These three deserve all the honors they’ve earned.”

jason weslagerkendal haynie grappling house wrestling club tallahassee wakulla female wrestler girls champion
Coach Weslager & Kendal Haynie pose for a photo after her 4th overall State Championship (2 FL and 2 GA)

He also understands the importance of their accomplishments, not just for themselves, but for the entire Big Bend Region.

“Girl’s wrestling is relatively new to Florida. While these girls started young, Female Wrestling was only sanctioned two years ago. If we want the sport to continue to grow locally, we need examples of strong female wrestlers leading the charge. I can’t think of three girls more qualified to be the face of girl’s wrestling in the Big Bend.”

While youth postseason competition has concluded in Florida, the girls have one more opportunity to test themselves against the best. On March 9th, they’ll compete in Fitzgerald, GA at the Georgia AAU State Championships. 

Bring back some more Gold, girls!

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