By Jason Chlapek
Killeen Daily Herald
AUSTIN – Ellison senior Tamara Hartfield wrestled like there was no tomorrow on Saturday.
And with Saturday being the last day of state meet competition and this being her senior year of high school, there was no tomorrow for Hartfield's high school wrestling days. But she made the most of her last day of high school wrestling by recording a trio of pinfall victories to claim third place in the girls 165-pound weight class at the Delco Center in Austin.
With the bronze-medal finish, Hartfield became the first Ellison wrestler since Joseph Sheffield in 2004 to claim a medal in the state meet. Sheffield, a wrestler at North Carolina-Greensboro, finished second in his weight class.
"This bronze medal feels great around my neck," Hartfield said. "I worked really hard for this, and the work paid off."
Hartfield finished her senior year with a 29-1 record. Her only loss came against eventual weight-class champion Alana Jimenez of Katy on Friday.
"I lost to the best, but that match served as my reality check," Hartfield said.
The loss obviously motivated Hartfield, who finished out the meet with four consecutive pinfall victories, including one on Friday against Valerie Rosales of El Paso Americas in an elimination match.
The win against Rosales gave Hartfield a fresh start Saturday morning as she took care of Gloria Guerra of El Paso Bel Air with a pin in 44 seconds to put herself in medal contention and send Guerra packing. From there, Hartfield used 45 seconds to pin Cassandra Stealey of Dallas Skyline to clinch a berth in the third-place match and send Stealey into the fifth-place contest.
Hartfield faced Brittany Jones of Coppell in her final match, and after a scoreless first round, Hartfield went to work and pinned Jones 41 seconds into the second round to give her the bronze medal.
Hartfield was one of four Ellison competitors who participated in the state meet, and one of six from Killeen ISD schools. Shellie Bryant, Jose Reyes and Caila Robledo also wrestled for the Eagles, while Keeya Sykes represented Killeen and Chelsea Koenen represented Shoemaker – Hartfield's former school.
Hartfield transferred to Ellison last spring.
The next big decision facing Hartfield will be college, and which one. She plans to wrestle at the next level, but now must decide where.
Cumberland, Missouri Valley and Oklahoma City are among the schools where Hartfield is considering wrestling.