By TED SILLANPAA
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Ukiah High’s Harmonie Roberts is already on her way to the new life that young people begin when they finish high school. She graduated early and is working two jobs before she heads Life University in Marietta, Ga., where she has accepted a scholarship to continue what has been an amazing wrestling career.
Roberts won three North Coast Section championships, including a title this year at 101 pounds. In girls wrestling, all weight divisions are not created equally. The upper weight classes have fewer competitors and fewer elite competitors.
Roberts has wrestling around 101 pounds for four years. Her tournament brackets are loaded with the best female wrestlers in the nation.
Roberts advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation championship meet for the fourth consecutive year. As girls wrestling grows, she will be viewed in hindsight as one of the pioneers who helped to grow the sport locally.
“I got into it. I really started to like wrestling,” she said. “I like that it’s one person out there on their own. If you lose, it’s on you. If you win, you can keep the success for yourself. There weren’t a lot of girls wrestling when I started. Now they have women wrestling in the World Championships.”
Roberts could have been the All-Empire Girls Wrestler of the Year in any of her four years. She earned that honor this year for another outstanding season and a career that will never be forgotten.
Roberts won the 101-pound title in the North Coast Section. “It’s the toughest weight class in the state,” she said. She finished fourth in the CIF meet where she annually took on her nationally ranked weight class peers.
“When I started out as a freshman, I didn’t think I could be that good,” Roberts said. “But, looking back, I had a great four years and couldn’t have asked for a better wrestling career.”
Roberts quickly points to the lowest moment in her high school career. It led to the highlight of her career, too.
“My biggest disappointment was not winning the section title as a junior,” she said. “That was really hard to overcome mentally. I went to the CIF meet and beat the girl who beat me in the section tournament and lost to the No. 1 wrestler in the country in my weight class. So that year was my worst and best moment.”
Roberts knows she made sacrifices to enjoy her level of success, especially after that junior year.
“I started choosing a healthier lifestyle. I only eat healthy foods … primarily a vegan diet. I started working out even harder. I don’t party, so that helps keep me in good shape and in a good spot academically. I don’t regret devoting myself to wrestling.
Roberts is looking forward to her college experience.
“It’s exciting to me,” she said. “I know it’s a long way from home, but the town that the school is in is a lot like California. Plus, I know I’ll always have great support.”
Harmonie’s dad, Shane, was one of her high school coaches. Her sister Alyssa was also on the Ukiah squad and competed at 116 points.
“Harmonie is a really hard worker, very determined,” her dad said. “She’ll work as hard as she has to to be the best she can be.”
Moving forward, though, Harmonie will be using that determination differently.
“It’s a new chapter in my life and I get to live it,” she said. “It’s a big step, but I’m really anxious to get to college and start a life.”