Cassidy O’Hara carries Olivia Poulton during conditioning drills during practice at Lakewood High School in Arlington on February 6, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cassidy O’Hara carries Olivia Poulton during conditioning drills during practice at Lakewood High School in Arlington on February 6, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Q&A with Lakewood senior wrestler Cassidy O’Hara

When Cassidy O’Hara was in the eighth grade, she thought about turning out for basketball. Her father, Lakewood High School wrestling coach Tom O’Hara, told her, “You can do what you want, but I know what you’ll be better at.”

Cassidy decided to join the wrestling team instead, and her father was right — she’s found her calling and a good amount of success on the mat. The senior will compete at Mat Classic in Tacoma for the third time this weekend. Last year she took seventh place in the 115-pound weight class.

Cassidy, who earned All-Northwest Conference 2A second-team soccer honors last fall and also plays tennis, competed at the Cadet/Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, last July, winning two of four matches.

“She’s proved that she can wrestle on a national level and (compete) with anybody,” Tom O’Hara said. “Her confidence level has risen to the point where she’s allowing herself to be an elite wrestler.”

The Herald recently spoke with Cassidy about wrestling, her future plans and other interests:

How would you describe your style of wrestling?

A lot of my wrestling (ability) comes from my length. I’m 5-foot-8, so I’m taller than a lot of girls in my weight class, and I can reach more. I (rely) more on movement and speed to take quick shots instead of trying to power through (opponents).

Did you experience a turning point with your confidence?

In previous years, I had the worst performance anxiety. I would overthink heading into a match, I would never just wrestle. One defining moment in my career was at the state meet last year. In the seventh-eighth place match, I was down 10 points at the start of the third round. I heard my dad say, “You can do this. This girl shouldn’t be able to beat you.” I swept her up and pinned her in the first 30 seconds of the round. It all clicked at that point. Ever since then I’ve wrestled completely different — I’m more aggressive, offensive, and imposing my will on other people.

What are your post-graduation plans?

I’ve received an offer to wrestle at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. I’m going to do visitations to three programs in Oregon — Eastern Oregon University, Southern Oregon University and Pacific University. I just don’t see my future not involving wrestling. The adrenaline rush of the one-v-one challenge is like nothing else I’ve experienced.

What would you like to study in college?

I want to be a physician’s assistant. After I get my master’s degree, I’d like to go on a five-year mission with Doctors Without Borders instead of going to a hospital right away. I want to make a difference and help to literally save people’s lives.

Besides sports, what other school activities are you involved in?

I’ve been involved with the leadership (class at Lakewood), and I’ve done some volunteer work and outreach activities with younger students. I’m also taking Running Start classes at Everett Community College, so I’ll have my associate’s degree when I graduate from high school.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I compete in rodeo events (during) the summer. I’m a barrel racer. When I was 8, my mom bought me a horse and I started taking lessons from professional barrel racers, and ever since then it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing. I’m a member of the Washington Barrel Racing Association and National Barrel Horse Association, and I’ve won at both of those levels.

How would you describe your personality?

I want to treat everyone how I want to be treated. I try to be kind to everyone and keep an open mind because you never know who you might become friends with — there’s so many awesome people out there that you may never get a chance to know.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Lambright left lasting legacy in Snohomish County and beyond

The Everett High School graduate and UW football coaching legend passed away recently at age 77.

On this day in 1989: Griffey Jr. doubles in 1st MLB at-bat

Read an original game story from April 4, 1989, when the Mariners Hall-of-Famer made his debut.

Storm basketball put on hold as WNBA delays start of season

Seattle had been slated to play eight games in Everett beginning in August.

Ifedi’s deal with Bears validates Seahawks fans’ concerns

The former Seattle starter’s veteran-minimum deal shows others were worried about his inconsistent play.

WIAA sets new deadline for spring sports championships

The organization says if school returns by May 4 it will still hold “some sort of culminating event.”

The Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. smiles from beneath a pile of teammates who mobbed him after he scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees on Oct. 8, 1995, at the Kingdome. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
POLL RESULTS: 1995 is the season for positive M’s memories

More than two-thirds of voters said their best Mariners memories come from Seattle’s first playoff run.

Mariners’ Gonzales on no opening day: ‘It’s definitely weird’

The Seattle starter says he’s encouraged by MLB’s coronavirus deal, but hopes pitchers are protected.

Kobe headlines star-studded Basketball Hall of Fame Class

Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and WNBA great Tamika Catchings joined Bryant as first-ballot selections.

UW coach Lake still hopeful for football in fall

‘I think we are going to have a season and I think it’s going to be a memorable one,’ the new coach says.

Most Read