THORNTON — The first ever girls high school wrestling championships took place at Thornton High School on Saturday in the pilot season of the program. Over 70 wrestlers from across the state would participate in the tournament, including two wrestlers that represented Mead High School and the St. Vrain Valley School District.
The venue isn't in stature of the Pepsi Center for the CHSAA state wrestling tournament, and the number of girls competing would not stack to the high number of athletes in the state meet later this month.
But Saturday's state tournament had something the one at the Pepsi Center cannot match: being a groundbreaking event for women in Colorado.
"Just to be qualified for a state meet for women is amazing," Mead's Kassandra Reyes said. "I've only been wrestling for two years, so for me, it's a big thing. I'm proud to be here."
Reyes, a freshman at Mead High School, was one of seven wrestlers competing for the title at 111 pounds. Her day started with a loss late in the third period to Maya DeGraff of Denver North that bounced her to the consolation bracket. In the consolation semifinals, Reyes would get her first win, holding off a late pin attempt from Eryn Tully of Fruita Monument to win by decision 6-5 and secure a spot on the podium.
"I wasn't sure of what to expect, but it was nice to get Kassandra on the podium," Mead coach Brian Bianco said.
A rematch with DeGraff came in the third-place match for Reyes. Unable to get the single-leg takedown she was shooting for early, Reyes was caught on a takedown attempt and reversed to the ground by DeGraff in the third period, resulting in another win by fall for the senior from Denver North.
While disappointed in losing the final match, reaching the podium in the first girls state tournament was a goal Reyes was happy to accomplish on Saturday.
"It feels pretty good," Reyes said. "I was shooting for third place. I tried, and (DeGraff) was a good wrestler and gave a good fight. I'm just happy I went for it."
Joining Reyes at the state tournament was Clarissa Batrez, a freshman from Erie. Competing in the 161-pound division, she was one of eight wrestlers in her weight class. A quick takedown from Avery Harter of ThunderRidge led to a loss by fall in the first period that moved her to the consolation bracket. She would then face Jaidyn Mueller of Chatfield, who was coming off her first loss of the season in the first round. Batrez would lose by fall in the second period and missed the podium in her run.
Despite the finish, being a part of the tournament was something Batrez said she could not take for granted.
"It's awesome just to be here," Batreaz said. "Even though I didn't win, I came out and wrestled, and now I know what I need to work on. I'm going to come back to this tournament next year."
Plenty of interest circulated around the girls state tournament as the sport moves closer to being a sanctioned sport by the Colorado High School Activities Association. The sport was approved to move forward with the pilot program last February and was recently approved by the Equity Committee for CHSAA in January, one of the first steps needed to become sanctioned for next year. In the next couple of months, a few more steps will unfold for girls wrestling to be one of three sports to be sanctioned by CHSAA, with most signs pointing to that happening.
The girls wrestling program has opened doors for many to go out for the sport, including Reyes.
"The guys wrestling gives you a little bit more of a challenge, but the girls wrestling is a pretty good sport and I'm glad they did it just for the girls," Reyes said. "It's definitely a good program."
Bianco hopes that the girls who are wrestling at the youth and middle school levels will notice the sport in high school and continue to do it. The goal, he says, is to get all the schools in the St. Vrain School District area to have enough interest to have their own teams in years to come.
"Overall it's been a great experience," Bianco said. "I'm pretty sure the numbers are there to make it a sport and I think it's the direction it should go in. For us, we want to keep those middle school girls that are wrestling and maybe don't know that we have a team to continue. I think eventually we'll see it trickle down a bit... We want to keep them and move them to high school."
All three say they believe the team will grow in numbers next year and interest will continue to be there for the program moving forward.
More importantly, the pioneers for the girls wrestling program put on a show at the state tournament with the hopes of proving the sport is here to stay for years to come.
"We're not as nice and as sweet as we look," Batrez said. "We're pretty vicious. It's so awesome and amazing to see how far these girls have taken this sport. We actually belong in this sport."
Colorado High School Girls Wrestling Championships
At Thornton HS
Team scores — Chatfield 54.5, Loveland 47, Mountain Vista 33, Skyview 32, Arapahoe 31, Douglas County 27, Doherty 25, Delta 24, Vista Ridge 22, Las Animas 21, Mullen 20, Prairie View 20, Peyton 18, ThunderRidge 18, Denver South 16, Fort Lupton 16, Lewis-Palmer 16, Ponderosa 16, Pueblo Central 16, Burlington 15.5, Chaparral 14, Denver North 14, Montrose 11, Holyoke 9, Northridge 9, Olathe 9, Mead 8, Eaglecrest 7, Thomas Jefferson 6, Fruita Monument 4, Mountain Range 4, Sierra Grande/Centennial 4, Air Academy 3, Calhan 3, Grand Valley 3, John F. Kennedy 3, Overland 3, Vista Peak 3, Heritage 2, Poudre 2, Yuma 1.
100 — Alvarado, Prairie View, dec. Perez, Ponderosa, 4-0.
105 — Johnson, Mtn. Vista, maj. dec. Steele, L-P, 8-0.
111 — Felan, Las Animas, dec. Herrera, Skyview, 3-2.
118 — Koch, Delta, pin Bankes, Loveland, 2:52.
127 — Terpstra, Loveland, pin Savidge, Doherty, 4:44.
136 — Antillon, Mullen, dec. Krause-Mahan, Peyton, 7-2.
147 — Garcia, Chatfield, pin Aguiree, Skyview, 3:51.
161 — Mitchell, Vista Ridge, pin Harter, ThunderRidge, 1:54.
185 — Sams, Douglas Cty, pin Tanko, Denver South, 3:22.
215 — Dasialyn Barron, Fort Lupton, declared champion.
100 — Ramos Cruz, Arapahoe, dec. Mosqueda, Holyoke, 5-3.
105 — McDonald, P. Central, pin Cummings, Northridge, :42.
111 — DeGraff, Denver North, pin Reyes, Mead, 3:52.
118 — Cosme, Chatfield, pin Huner, Doherty, 2:19.
127 — Fiordalis, Chap, maj. dec. Laskoski, Ft. Lupton, 10-1.
136 — Aguilar, Burlington, tech fall Myers, Montrose, 16-0.
147 — Sandoval, Mtn. Vista, dec. Gilliland, Arapahoe, 2-0.
161 — Mueller, Chatfield, pin Carlin, Loveland, 2:44.
185 — Plummer, Arapahoe, pin Alejandro, Olathe, 4:22.