High school wrestling

New state girls postseason tourney takes to mat

By Mark Haskell | Nov 22, 2018

Typically, the high school wrestling season, for the many who do not earn the opportunity to qualify for the New England qualifier event, ends at the conclusion of the state team and individual championships in mid-February.

But, for some, the season will continue for a few more days after it was approved at a Nov. 15 Maine Principals’ Association interscholastic business meeting that there will be an individual girls state championship tournament for the 2018-19 season.

According to the 2018-19 MPA wrestling bulletin, the inaugural MPA girls individual state wrestling championship tournament will be on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Penobscot Valley High School in Howland.

The event will allow girls to wrestle exclusively against other girls to collect an individual state championship, but will still allow them to be contributing members to their respective squads at the coed, traditional team championships.

The girls tourney will have eight weight classes: 106, 113, 120, 132, 145, 160, 182 and 220-pound classes.

There have been postseason girls wrestling tourneys in the past, but those have not been sanctioned by the MPA.

Longtime Mount View wrestling coach Hamilton Richards said “It’s very good news.”

“Mount View has always supported previous attempts to have a postseason girls tournament when we could [some years it fell outside the sport season and I couldn't coach them] and we've had a few champions and runner-ups,” he said. “This year I am looking to have between two to four girls on the team and, if they do compete, at least three of them should be very competitive.”

“I think it’s great,” said Oceanside coach Jason Yates. “Obviously I have two daughters that wrestle. One is out of high school and I have one in middle school that’s coming up. I’m excited that she’ll have an opportunity to compete for a Maine state championship. Girls wrestling is growing so much in the state right now that I really think it’s awesome and it should help encourage more girls to join the sport.”

Yates’ older daughter, Shannon Ripley, is a sophomore wrestler at Husson University in Bangor and, as a freshman, won the national championship in the 143-pound weight class at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) women's national championships in March.

"Girls 'need' the opportunity to compete for an individual state title," said Camden Hills coach Pat Kelly. "Historically, girls have played an amazing role in the development and quality of many high school programs. Camden Hills has had a number of incredibly dedicated and talented girls wrestlers that have placed in regional and state meets, [such as] Kristi Pearse, Logan Rich and Hilary Merrifield."

Interestingly enough, Kristina Kelly and Izzy Lang — the top goal scorer and goalie from the state champion Windjammer girls soccer team — planned to compete on the wrestling team this winter.

Many high school-aged female wrestlers compete in various female wrestling tournaments, but this is the first time such a tourney has been sanctioned by the MPA.

The event also should give talented female wrestlers a more significant stage to showcase they are the best of the best, which, as Richards pointed out, happened to one of his former female grapplers, Sierra Fonger, in a postseason women's wrestling tournament two years ago.

“[She was] wrestling in the 152-160 range and she was struggling to pull down a .500 record in open [or coed] competition,” said Richards. “But at her first girls tournament, she absolutely dominated her opponents and opened more than a few eyes considering one of those female wrestlers was already on an interstate travel team. Sierra hadn't been on anyone's radar prior to that opportunity. Afterwards? That travel team [Maine Trappers] was all too eager to sign her up and get her on their roster.”

Fonger is now a sophomore at the University of Maine, and, as a freshman, was named as an All-American at the National Collegiate Wrestling Association (NCWA) women's national championships in March.

Each Midcoast wrestling school — Oceanside of Rockland, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Camden Hills of Rockport, Belfast and Mount View of Thorndike — usually have a few female wrestlers who compete in coed matches through the regular and postseason.

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.