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Chico High 146-pound junior wrestler Kody Atkins went a perfect 3-0 over the weekend and took first place at the Sac-Joaquin/Northern Section Tournament, earning the right to advance to the inaugural CIF-sanctioned Girls State Invitational at Lemoore High School on Feb. 25.

“It feels good,” said Atkins, who is also the defending Northern Section champion in cross country. “I just got used to seeing a bunch of the girls in the other sections, so it wasn”t that big of a change. I just want to keep taking it one match at a time and see how it goes. I don”t really think about it until the day of. Right now I”m just doing what I can to get ready.”

For Chico girls wrestling coach Richard Redmond, the fact that Atkins will be competing in the state tournament is especially significant for girls wrestling.

“It”s really great. She”s been wrestling since junior high and for the girls wrestling program to grow this big and for her to win the first time at section, it”s awesome,” said Redmond of Atkins. “I just love to see how she”s helped the sport grow.”

Heading into the state tournament, Redmond knows that the competition Atkins will face will likely have a slight advantage in terms of pure strength. So in preparation for the invitational, Redmond is working on getting Atkins in peak physical condition and fine-tuning her technique.

“The girls she has lost to are usually a little more physical, maybe a little more strong than Kody,” said Redmond. “We”re going to work on our speed and our aggressiveness.”

As far as specific goals go, Redmond has his sights set high.

“We”re hoping to get into the top three, top two, or even hopefully champ,” said Redmond. “I would really like to show the community more of what girls wrestling means. Hopefully this will be key to bring more young ladies out to the sport.”

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