Melina Hutchison of Soldotna and Tela O'Donnell of Homer recently participated in the Missouri Valley College International Open wrestling tournament in Marshall, Mo.
O'Donnell, a member of this year's Nikiski High School wrestling team, finished second at 123.25 pounds, losing 6-2 to Tina Wilson of Colorado Springs, Colo., in the final.
Hutchison, who wrestled for Skyview High School during the fall season, placed third at 112.25 pounds, winning her consolation final match against Shelley-Ann Tomita of Honolulu, Hawaii.
"A girl I had to wrestle was ranked third in the nation. All of the girls were in college, and they were all (ranked) pretty high up there," Hutchison said of the caliber of competition at the meet, which drew several top club and college teams as well as a squad from El Salvador.
"It was good to go down there to see which colleges were the best," O'Donnell said, adding that she was able to ask other competitors and coaches about programs from around the country. "It was a good competition. In my weight class, most of the women that should be at nationals were there. I wrestled the No. 1-ranked lady."
Both Hutchison and O'Donnell wrestled three matches in the one-day tournament.
Hutchison said she was excited about her chances to compete at the intercollegiate level next season, though she did say she had a few things to work on.
"This meet showed me how much I need to work to beat those girls," Hutchison said. "In college, women wrestle freestyle. I hadn't had that much time to work on the transition (from the high school season). In freestyle, you only get 10 seconds to turn a person. I needed to work on my turns. I got 17 takedowns, but no turns."
O'Donnell said she didn't have much trouble making the transition to the freestyle format.
"I thought I would have a lot of trouble, but wrestling is wrestling," O'Donnell said. "I have a lot to work on before Nationals. ... You use similar moves, but you use a different strategy."
Hutchison said improving her performance was just a matter of refining a few more moves to help her turn her opponents once she scores the takedown.
O'Donnell said the meet made for some good preparations for her trip to the national championships in April.
"It was really good for that. It makes me think I could do really well," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell particularly was pleased to "tech" an opponent she had lost to twice previously, defeating her 10-0 at the tournament.
"I can see the improvement in myself, and that makes me excited," O'Donnell said.
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