April 14, 2021 -- Girls' wrestling is a sport that has been growing in popularity in Ohio during the past few years.
The enthusiasm for girls' wrestling is growing strong with some Columbus City Schools students. While the 2020-2021 school year has been an unprecedented year due to COVID-19, the pandemic didn't stop some students from hitting the mat and trying new things.
"I wanted something challenging for me. I thought, 'why not wrestling'," said Northland High School junior Nahjae Alcron, an all-city track and field standout who has enlisted into the National Guard.
Like Alcron, graduating senior Melissa Foster joined the Briggs High School wrestling team her junior year. Both students are the only females on their team, but that does not bother them.
"I know I'm a girl, but you don't have to take it easy on me. Just look at me as another wrestler,” said Foster.
Girls' wrestling is among the fastest-growing sports in the United States.
Due to coaches' active push, high school teams hope to add more female wrestlers to their roster in the upcoming season.
"A lot of the girls think that they still have to wrestle against guys, and I tell them they have the choice not to because they have their own league now," said Thomas Joyce, Wrestling Coach at Briggs High School.
Both Alcron and Foster were able to compete in several matches, despite the pandemic.
Alcorn attended the Central/Southeast District Tournament in February at Olentangy Orange High School. She placed third in her weight class, advancing to the inaugural girls' state tournament at Hilliard Davidson High School.
"I knew that I wasn't as experienced as the other girls, but I just went on and remembered what my coaches taught me, and it went really well. I ended up pinning her, and I was surprised I could do what I saw the boys doing," Alcorn says.
This tournament is sponsored by the Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association. The plan is for the Ohio High School Athletic Association to sanction the sport and take over the event eventually.
"Now that women's wrestling is becoming more prevalent, it's amazing to see," said Robert Jackson, Assistant Wrestling Coach at Northland High School. "Every year, there is a larger turnout."
"I feel really good to be surrounded by other strong women that are participating in this sport," said Foster.