AUSTIN — Even walking away from the medal stand, after stepping down from the second-highest rung, Dineesha Jones still couldn’t believe it.
Coming into the weekend, the Shoemaker senior 110-pounder was just shooting for a little jewelry.
“I’m still kinda shocked,” Jones said with a heavy silver medal emblazoned with the UIL logo hanging gently from around her neck. “I didn’t expect to get this far, … but I worked hard, I did everything right, I did all the technique I’ve learned and I just worked for it.
“I’m still kinda in shock, though.”
But it was Jones’ devil-may-care attitude in the 5A girls’ 110-pound championship against Michelle Lomas of Amarillo Tascosa that had her one wrong move away from that top stoop Saturday morning at the 5A Girls State Wrestling Championships at the Delco Center.
“She wrestled that match to win,” Shoemaker head coach Ken Soloff said. “She didn’t wrestle scared, she wrestled with confidence. She ran into a quality opponent, (but) … she wrestled unafraid to lose — and that’s important. She wasn’t afraid to lose, therefore she gave herself a chance to win.”
Also joining Jones on the medal stand Saturday were a pair of Ellison Lady Eagles.
Senior KyIra Gibson (15-6) capped her first season on the mat with a pin of Arlington Martin’s Elizabeth Fitzgerald in the 185-pound division with nine seconds left in the first period to claim bronze, while fellow senior Fallon Christian (31-4) locked in a double arm bar on San Antonio Johnson sophomore Ashley McCutcheon for a fifth-place pin with 1:11 remaining in the third.
“It just makes me feel even better because now I know I can do anything and all I have to do is put hard work and effort into it,” Gibson said.
With that carefree mindset, Jones let it all out, trying to lock the strong Lomas — who dropped weight this season after finishing third at 119 pounds last year — into a head-and-arm gator roll takedown early in the match.
“It’s a difficult move to catch, and when it’s caught, the crowd goes crazy — it’s like a dunk in basketball,” Soloff said of the gator roll.
But Jones let Lomas’ arm slip out as she rolled onto her back before recovering and settling into the bottom position for the two-point takedown.
“The gator roll is my move, so I told myself I could do this, but I didn’t actually have the arm underneath, and so I tried it anyways,” said Jones, who finished 31-6 on the season.
Jones escaped to make it 2-1 with 33 seconds left in the opening period, but Lomas chose bottom to start the second and sat out hard off the whistle for a reversal and a 4-1 lead. At the start of the third, Jones chose down and looked to return the favor, but only managed a one-point escape to make it 4-2 with 1:20 left in the match.
With time winding down, a desperate Jones shot in for a single leg but was countered by Lomas, who picked Jones’ left knee for her own takedown.
“I tried to do a takedown, but she grabbed my leg, so it backfired kinda sorta,” Jones said. “I guess I should have been more steady with it, but at least I tried.”
Once on the mat, though, Lomas posted one hand on Jones’ head and the other on her hip and flipped her to her back, sinking a deep half nelson for the match-ending pin with 32 seconds left.
Jones’ silver medal was the highest any Shoemaker wrestler has achieved since Emerald Solomon won it all at 215 in 2005.
Gibson provided one of the day’s biggest shockers as the former bench player on the Ellison volleyball team made the most of her time on the mat, maintaining good balance long enough to lock Fitzgerald into a head-and-arm and throw her down for the pin.
“It’s amazing and I don’t know how to feel because this is a first for me — to place in state somewhere,” Gibson said. “I thought I was going to be a volleyball player all my life, but to find something new that I excel in is amazing.”
Christian, who took third at the Region IV meet while McCutcheon was second, wanted to prove that was a fluke in front of several college coaches at the Delco Center scouting talent.
“I felt like powerful, I guess, I really wanted to give everything — like 200 percent — and I think I did,” Christian said.
Against McCutcheon, Christian secured a single-leg takedown midway through the first period and then reversed her off a stand up in the third to send McCutcheon to her back for a 7-0 advantage before the pin.