Cedar High’s Mel Earl, fresh off her only season, signs letter of intent to wrestle for Snow College

Cedar High senior Melbourne "Mel" Earl signs letter of intent to wrestle for Snow College, Cedar City, Utah, May 9, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Cedar High School senior Melbourne “Mel” Earl has signed a letter of intent to wrestle for the Snow College Badgers starting this fall.

Cedar High senior Melbourne “Mel” Earl is surrounded by her parents and younger brothers after signing a letter of intent to wrestle for Snow College, Cedar City, Utah, May 9, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“No one else is ever going to be the first girl to sign from Cedar High School to go wrestle at the next level,” Cedar High School activities director Danny Lewis said as he welcomed fellow students and family members who had gathered to watch her sign on Tuesday. “It’s something she’ll be able to lay claim to forever. It’s a neat thing.”

Earl, who hadn’t wrestled competitively before taking up the sport her senior year, ended up capturing the 4A state championship in the 115-pound bracket in mid-February. Earl defeated top-seeded Bella Gunderson of Bear River in the semifinals by first-round pin, then defeated Genesis Diaz of Pine View in the finals, also by pin, just 44 seconds into the first round.

“The girl from Bear River had a record of 34-4; she’d only lost four times the entire season,” Earl noted. “And mine was like 37-14.”

Mel’s mother April Earl said her daughter has come a long way from knowing almost nothing about the sport until fairly recently. 

“Her dad tried to get her to do it a couple of years ago, but she didn’t want anything to do with it,” April Earl said. “And then, when she decided that she wanted to try, she went all in, and that’s how she lives her life.”

“We’re really proud of her and are looking forward to seeing where she goes,” she added.

Mel’s father Randy Earl spoke of his daughter’s competitiveness and determination.

“We know that Mel, whatever she puts her mind to, she’ll do the best that she can do,” he said after talking about watching his daughter play multiple sports throughout her youth, including soccer, volleyball and softball. She recently told him that she’d “found her Zen” in wrestling, he added.

Longtime Cedar High wrestling coach Luke Payne talks about Melbourne Earl, who signed a letter of intent to compete at Snow College, Cedar City, Utah, May 9, 2023 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Also speaking briefly during the signing ceremony were longtime Cedar head wrestling coach Luke Payne and assistant coach Launa Ingledew.

Payne said even though Earl had struggled at the beginning of the season, losing her first two matches, she soon figured out how to win, “always trying to be the very best (she) could be, every moment.”

“It’s an amazing thing to wrestle on that next level and to go see what you can do with great workout partners and great programs,” he added. “I’m just so excited for her and proud of her.” 

Earl’s signing came less than two weeks after Canyon View High School senior Hallie Carter signed to wrestle for the Snow College Badgers. At 145 pounds, Carter is a few weight classes heavier than Earl, so the soon-to-be college teammates haven’t wrestled against each other.

Earl did say, however, that she has often practiced against heavier opponents.

“By the end of the season, there was no one really my weight, so I really would just wrestle anyone,” she noted. “ I’m really appreciative to everyone who wrestled me.”

Earl said she’s looking forward to furthering her education at Snow College while continuing to develop her wrestling skills.

And while Earl says the mental pressure of wrestling can be “nerve-racking,” she said she looks forward to the challenge.

“It’s like, up to me,” she said. “I’m the only one on the mat. I can have my coaches on the sideline and I can listen to them, but it’s really just me and no one else. So no matter if I win or if I lose, it’s on me.”

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