In the ebbs and flows of high school athletics participation numbers, there's one sport trending upward across the board: girls wrestling.
According to NFHS, there’s been an increase every year since 2015 in Connecticut. So, the CIAC has listened and this past weekend, 90 young women made history at the state’s first Girls Wrestling Invitational.
It’s a welcome change for the girls who have learned to wrestle against the boys, often tuning out negative comments or scratches from opponents who don’t want to face them. Instead, they faced other girls in a tournament running in conjunction with the Boys State Open. Connecticut is the 19th state to add a tournament of this kind.
"I got like chills, actually,” said Claire Jackson, a senior at Amity. “I've watched every year and I love coming here because it's so cool and to actually be wrestling here is amazing.”
With 131 total girls across the state, it doesn’t yet have enough participation to be sanctioned as a competitive sport by the CIAC, but all involved said this is another step toward building it up even more.
"You'll see a lot of little girls in the stands maybe came to watch their brother and they're going to be looking over at the girls saying hey maybe that could be me,” said Amity head coach Todd Patterson. The Spartans have one of the larger girls rosters with four. Norwich Free Academy has five.
”It definitely shows the younger girls,” said Destiny Mateo, a junior at NFA. “Hey we're going to have a voice and by the time they get to this level they're going to be able to wrestle girls and feel more comfortable in this environment.”
The tournament crowned 10 new champions. Here’s a full list:
1st Samantha Yap (Stamford) DEC Anna Vladimiskaya (Brien McMahon), 6-2
3rd Taylor Mccormick (Somers) F Kristina Topper (Northwestern), 0:27
5th Brenda Leite (Danbury) FOR Ariyanna Orosco (Amity)
1st Savannah Vanase (Norwich Free Academy) DEC Alden Johnson (Wethersfield), 6-0
3rd Kaleigh Carillos (Norwalk) DEC Karla Flores (Montville), 9-7 SV
1st Destiny Mateo (Norwich Free Academy) DEC Christianna Morley (Berlin), 3-1 SV
3rd Julianna Morris (Pomperaug) DEC Sabrina Sedor (Stafford), 5-3
5th Valerie Turgeon South (South Windsor) F Annika Santos (Ledyard), 4:27
1st Linda Holeman (Ledyard) F Lily Schwartz (Northwestern), 4:43
3rd Emily De souza (Amity) MD Virgina Juarbe (Waterford), 14-1
5th Mary Morley (Berlin) F Anala Smith (Shelton), 1:49
1st Camryn Brown (Amity) F Emma Alford (Conard), 1:49
3rd Simona Barbagallo (Plainville) DEC Claire Keene (RHAM), 6-5 SV
5th Sofia Guarino (Haddam-Killingworth) DEC Ashley Wood (New Fairfield), 7-0
1st Ella Nichols (Bristol Eastern) F Aida Flores (Montville), 1:02
3rd Yanilis Castillo (New Britain) DEC Brianna Seixas (Guilford), 7-6
5th Nolyette Ortiz Verastequi (Windham) DEF Makayla Thorpe (Windsor), 5-2 2:12
1st Ashley Reed (Southington) F Baylee Gagneir (Montville), 3:45
3rd Natalia Chorzepa (Berlin) F Claire Jackson (Amity), 3:34
5th Hayden Richardson (EO Smith) DEC Samantha Hall (Suffield/Windsor Locks), 8-2