Carson High wrestling hasn’t been inundated with a crop of new girls wrestlers after the NIAA officially recognized the sport this past summer.
Other programs have seen the popularity grow among the female ranks, but for the Senators it’s been the same two for several years now.
Seniors Amber Perkins and Ellah Olson are staples in the practice room and around the program.
They’ve not only been influential on the dual teams, but have flourished in their own tournaments all over the United States.
Both wrestlers are unsure what lies ahead of them in terms of collegiate wrestling, but have a couple more chances to continue adding to their mark at the high school ranks.
As a freshman, Amber Perkins proved her ability early on.
In late December of her first season with Carson wrestling, Perkins made a statement by winning her weight class as the Sierra Nevada Classic.
The route in which she did it is still engrained in her coach’s mind.
“That was the first year SNC had a girls tournament. She beat a girl from McQueen who she been wrestling her entire life and never beaten,” said Carson High head coach Nick Redwine. “That was when I realized, this girl knows what she’s doing.”
Olson’s been gaining steam and her senior season had been littered with podium finishes after winning the Reno Tournament of Champions in December.
The senior followed up with a second place finish at the Sierra Nevada Classic and another silver medal at MidCals this past weekend.
“This season it’s been a breath of fresh air,” said Redwine. “It’s amazing to watch two seasoned, veteran wrestlers – never mind that they’re girls. They’ve been around the sport a long time and they know what it takes to win.”
It’s not just the in-season tournaments that the two have had success in.
Out of season, both are competing in Greco-Roman freestyle wrestling tournaments ranging from the West coast to North Dakota, North Carolina and several states in between.
Nonstop competition has kept the two in prime form and all that match experience gives them a different level.
“I really have enjoyed coaching them because they can turn it on and they know what it takes to win,” said Redwine.
Per TrackWrestling, Perkins is 40-15 over the last calendar year with 29 pins and eight wins by tech fall.
Olson, on the other hand, is 49-28 with 36 pins and four wins by tech fall.
Since the Sierra Nevada Classic, Olson has finished fourth, second, third, second and second in her last five tournaments.
Perkins is right there with her posting a second place finish at Cody Louk, SNC, and the Rollie Lane Invitational before taking third this past weekend at MidCals.
(Carson High senior Ellah Olson lines up to face her opponent at the Reno Tournament of Champions this past winter. Olson has put together a remarkable career in the Senator blue and white uniform. Carter Eckl / Nevada Appeal)
Getting into the sport
Both wrestlers grew up intertwined in the wrestling landscape.
Perkins says she remembers competing as early as fourth grade.
It was her family, including older brothers, which pushed her into the sport.
“He and my mom said I started when I was eight,” laughed Perkins. “All of my siblings have wrestled. In a way, I guess I’ve always done it. When I take a break, it feels like something is missing.”
Perkins said it’s a six-day grind in the offseason, commuting up to Reno to stay on the mat.
Other workout programs don’t fulfill Perkins.
Growing up, Perkins was sacrificing weight and size to compete at national events against the toughest competition.
“I’ve been to other national events and I’ve been an all-American. Nothing really stands out like that,” Perkins said.
Olson, who wrestles freestyle with the Nevada national team in the offseason, said it was her dad and older brother that got her into wrestler.
Her brother is currently wrestling at the University of Chicago.
“I’ve been around it since I was two. I’ve just grown up in a wrestling family,” said Olson.
Her wrestling career has been impacted by a knee injury sustained while playing football in which Olson tore her ACL, MCL and meniscus. She said the injury to her left knee has continued to affect her wrestling style and caused her to miss her sophomore season.
“I do the best in Greco because I don’t shoot,” said Olson. “It was like a year or year-and-a-half recovery. It was a lot of waiting.”
As a response, Olson has found her success on her ability to counter and be a solid defensive wrestler until she sees an opportunity.
After a second place finish at MidCals last winter as a junior, Olson regained her confidence in her ability to win on the mat.
“This season has felt pretty good,” said Olson. “I can see an improvement in my offense. I was waiting for people to shoot and doing my wrestling based on that. Now, I’m doing snap downs and other things to help set up an offense.”
As the pair heads into regionals, their head coach is hoping the Senators can boast two more state champions.
“I want them to win regionals and win state to put another couple of names on the wall,” said Redwine. “I know there is some stiff competition in Vegas. … If they do make that final at state, I’m just going to tell them to do their thing.”