There was an explosion of girl wrestlers at this year’s unofficial state wrestling championships.
With more than 200 wrestlers, tournament officials in McPherson were forced to split several weights into two or three different brackets, resulting in multiple state title winners in many weights.
Of course, that’s not how a KSHSAA-sanctioned tournament would proceed, but girls wrestling was not sanctioned for this season. It likely soon will be, as KSHSAA is widely expected to vote to sanction the sport at a meeting in April.
But for this year, Kansas high school girls wrestlers had to settle for the unofficial tournament in McPherson on Saturday, when a pair of area girls represented western Kansas with individual medal performances.
Holcomb’s Amilia Martinez dominated here 106-pound B bracket, pinning all four of her opponents en route to the crown, and finishing the season at 18-7.
“It means a lot,” Martinez said of the title, “because for a small-town girl like I am, it feels good to do something like that.”
Martinez, a freshman, began wrestling in 2015 on a recreation team, after watching her younger brother take to the sport.
“I just like competing,” Martinez said.
Lakin’s Isabela Ortiz also had a solid day, taking fourth in a different 106-pound bracket, only losing to eventual second-place finisher Amanda Newcomb of Osawatomie. Outside of the one loss, Ortiz had a pair of pins and two decisions to finish fourth.
“She went in there and did what she could, showed what she’s learned and came out fourth,” Lakin head coach Jim Christiansen said. “Proud of her, for sure.”
Christiansen said that he’s coached Ortiz, also a freshman, for several years.
“She was 35, 40 pounds when she started, and it’s amazing to see the growth when you start that young.”
Ortiz and Martinez join Garden City’s Anjelina Serrano as state-placers at the girls tournament in McPherson from The Telegram’s area. Serrano, a sophomore, finished fourth at 126 pounds.
Now, all three may wrestle in sanctioned events for the rest of their high school careers, if KSHSAA sanctions the sport in April.
“I do believe they should,” Christiansen said. “If nothing else, just go off of this weekend, when there were so many girls they had to split up the brackets.”
And just expect more of that, according to Martinez, who said she’d expect another influx of girl wrestlers if KSHSAA were to sanction.
“I feel like (girls) would want to wrestle more if they were wrestling more girls than boys,” she said, referencing that recently most girls would have to wrestle boys in exhibition or junior varsity matches to try to get matches in during the season.