The sport of girls wrestling continues to grow.
Rocky Point hosted an open invite invitational on Sunday morning to close the local wrestling season for girls. Rocky Point coach Darren Goldstein dubbed the tournament the Suffolk championships and rolled out the mats before a packed house to crown nine champions.
“This is our Suffolk championship. We’re ending the season on a high note by crowning a girls champion in every weight class,” Goldstein said. “It’s not quite the sectional tournament – yet. We’re one of only three sections in the state to put together a year-end event to crown girls champs. It’s better than the alternative which is having the girls wrestle in the boys tournament, get lower seeds, and get pounded. This way we end the season on a high note and keep growing the sport.”
According to Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, Suffolk’s governing body of interscholastic athletics, the Rocky Point Invitational was another big step in the right direction for girls wrestling as the sport continues to blossom.
“Rocky Point put together a fantastic wrestling invitational to close the season and wrap up the year for the girls,” Combs said. “We don’t have a sectional tournament, and this is the first step toward making a sectional tournament a reality. Hopefully, it’s the start of something big. We’re working towards an sectional tournament and we feel the Rocky Point event will spur even more growth.”
Bay Shore coach Amber Atkins said the Rocky Point staff pulled together a phenomenal event that recognized all the hard work and effort of the girls wrestling in the county. Bay Shore was recognized by the New York State Public High Schools Athletic Association as the first school to have a wrestling team for girls only in the state.
“This was so exciting for the sport,” Atkins said. “There was so much adrenaline and excitement in the gym. I was coaching and could feel the stress and the nerves of the girls. We’re keeping the momentum strong in the sport. Soon we’ll have sectional and state tournaments.”
Bay Shore crowned four champions in the nine weight classes contested. The champs were Mora Peterson at 99 pounds, Gabby Baker at 132, Claudia Pascale at 140 and Avery Taylor at 220.
Peterson, an eighth-grader, opened the tournament with a 5-1 win over Rocky Point’s Ava Capogna. She scored a first-period takedown after a scramble and punctuated the win in the third period with an escape and another takedown.
“It was such a tough bout,” Peterson said. “I rode her out in the second period and then controlled the third period. She’s really good.”
Atkins said the two 99-pounders were evenly matched and the first scramble keyed the win.
Baker, a ninth-grader, pinned Ashley Lehecka of Connetquot in 1:47. Baker tried a bear hug but Lehecka worked her way out of the hold. Baker then used a cement mixer into a half-Nelson for the pin.
“She was strong in the upper body, so I tried different moves,” Baker said. “This was a great experience. I was nervous at first but once I stepped on the mat, I felt really confident.”
There were wrestlers from 10 schools in Sunday’s tournament.
“I got cut from the girls basketball team in middle school and asked my dad if I could wrestle,” said ninth-grader Sara Christie of Sachem East, who placed third in the tournament. “He was so supportive.”
“She’s improved so much in three years,” said Bob Christie. “I’m going to our Sachem Board of Education to request we add a girls wrestling team. I’m so proud of her.”
ROCKY POINT GIRLS WRESTLING INVITATIONAL
At Rocky Point H.S.
Finals: 99 – Mora Peterson (BS) dec. Ava Capogna (RP), 5-1. 106 – Maddy Ridge (HHHW) pin Sierra Kateridge (BS), :44. 113 – Ansley Hanus (Matt) pin Savanna Eberhardt (SE), :50. 120 – Gianna Amendola (RP) pin Phillica Pascale (BS), :58. 126 – Stephanie Campos (Cop) dec. Maria Quercia (BS), 11-0. 132 – Gabby Baker (BS) pin Ashley Lehecka (Conn), 1:47. 140 – Claudia Pascale (BS) dec. Genesis Moscoso (BS), 7-2. 152 – Adrianna Eberhardt (SE) pin Jodine Tineo (Cop), :47. 220 – Avery Taylor (BS) pin Nala McBride (BS), 1:37.