USA wrestling holds fourth girls state championship
Mar 26, 2019 02:28PM
By Greg James
At a recent Granite School District junior high wrestling meet several girls, like Angie Magana, competed in coed wrestling matches. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
Girls wrestling is catching on around the state.
The fourth annual girls state championship was held on Feb. 2 at Telos High School in Orem where Kearns went home with a state title.
“It is awesome to do something that other girls don’t; it feels really cool,” Kearns sophomore Saibyn Newell said. “Most girls are scared of this, but I am just a wrestler. My coaches cheer for me just like any other wrestler. No special treatment or anything.”
As a non-sanctioned sport, the Utah High School Activities Association does not oversee girls wrestling. The athletes are forced to participate on coed teams throughout their high school seasons.
This is the fourth season USA wrestling has sponsored the girls-only event.
“It is cool to wrestle. I started in eighth grade,” Newell said. “My older brother wrestled and so did my brother-in-law. I just got interested. It has been a sport in our family so I thought I would try it.”
Sage Mortimer from ALA High School in Spanish Fork made history by becoming the first girl to place at a men's Greco-Roman junior wrestling nationals. She placed seventh overall in the 100-pound division.
At the girls wrestling state championship, 78 girls participated from 30 schools. Cyprus brought nine athletes, Granger two and Kearns four. Taylorsville, Riverton and Hunter had one.
“I wish I could have done better,” Newell said. “I can see places that I can get better and better. I have seen what Sage has been able to do and I look up to that.”
Newell has the encouragement of her family and coaches.
“I have encouraged her to do the things she wants,” Newell’s mother Jamie said. “How many times in my life have I said, ‘when I was in high school.’ I want my kids to do it all, get the experience and like it. I don’t want her to regret her time.”
Coed wrestling can be difficult for the girls. Boys of the same weight are generally stronger than the girls.
“They are naturally stronger than me, but it is not weird for me to wrestle a guy. I have won a few matches against the guys,” Newell said.
Her mother agreed the pressure is on the guys.
“I think some guys are threatened,” Jamie said. “They think they had better win or they think they just lost to a girl, not another wrestler. Change is a constant in this world. We need to encourage them as wrestlers not just boys and girls. Wrestling is good to teach them to take care of their bodies and health, too.”
Hunter High freshman Neida Valle just finished her first season on the mat. She was the only girl from her school at the state tournament. She did not place in the event.
“I came in the first day and knew it was hard work. I liked it, but wrestling boys is hard,” Valle said. “They can always out-muscle girls. I just need to learn better technique. I think girls wrestling is growing and I would like to talk to the younger girls and tell them to keep it up. It teaches you about life and hard work.”
High school coaches are learning how to be effective with their changing teams.
“I don’t think it was different to coach the girls,” first year Kearns wrestling head coach Antonio Miekel said. “I tried to treat them the same as the rest of the team as much as I could. I think they got more support than the guys on our team. There are a lot of life lessons you can take away from the sport. I would not be where I am today without wrestling. Guy or girl, the kids should come give it a try.”