7th Annual USGWA Nationals, Lake Orion, MI
March 27 and 28, 2004
CT Women Take 7th Place at 2004 US Girls Wrestling Association Nationals
This year USGWA held their 7th Annual National tournament. The USGWA, an organization managed and driven by the director Kent Bailo, organizes numerous girls and womens state tournaments across the country throughout the year. Through these tournaments the USGWA has provided more girls and women the opportunity to wrestle other girls and women woman than any other organization. The USGWA Nationals, for the past three years, has drawn about 500 female wrestlers from the elementary to the university level. This folkstyle wrestling tournament also draws most of the highest ranked women freestyle wrestlers in the high school division.
This year at the 2004 USGWA Nationals Connecticut was represented by:Junior High School Division:
|Jessica Bennett (Uncasville)
|Spirit Souza (Brooklyn)
High School Division:
|Susie Levitt (Danbury)
|Lauren Tallman (Norwalk)
|Megan Corden (Woodstock)
|Dyami Souza (Brooklyn)
|Jade Perry (Norwich)
|Stefenie Shaw (Waterford)
|Katherine Prussia (Woodstock)
University Folkstyle Division::
|Melyssa Fuqua (Trinity College)
As you can see an impressive percentage of our women that did very well at this tournament, the most challenging womens folkstyle tournament there is. There are some good stories to go along with these great performances. First there is the time, energy and expense that these girls and their parents put into preparing for and traveling to this tournament to find out were they stand in the world of womens wrestling. Among them we have wrestlers like Megan Corden, a second year wrestle making it to the All American level in a 20+ wrestler bracket against wrestlers from all over the United States. Her teammate, Katie Prussia fell a round short of placing at 144 Lbs but did win two matches in a very tough weight class that included two national champions in their own right. Stefenie Shaw of CT and Heather Martin of OH were both in the 144 Lb weight class. They both were champions at the FILA Jr. Nationals freestyle tournament two weeks earlier, Stefenie at 63 Kg (138.75 Lbs) and Heather at 67 Kg (147.4 Lbs). They will be teammates on the USA Pan AM team in May when they compete in Guatamala. They met in the finals and Heather Martin controlled the first two periods and Stefenie dominated in the third period but was not able to make her pinning combinations stick.
A real story of perseverance is that of Jade Perry from Norwich, CT. Over the years Jade has wrestled in a number of major tournaments with one or more serious injuries. In some cases she has broken one bone or another virtually on the eve of the competition. This year we are very happy to report that she had no competition ending injury! Thats not to say she wasnt injured. She managed to cut her hand badly enough a few days before the tournament to require several stitches. If did not seem to have any negative effects on her performance! If it had not been for a bye in her first round we believe that Jade would have easily had the fastest pin award. Jade disposed of all four of her opponents by pins. The first in 10 seconds, the second in 11 seconds! Congratulations are due to a long suffering and very determined champion!
Another champion is a woman who has been active in helping stimulate and support womens wrestling in CT and New England. Melyssa Fuqua who is a student at Trinity College took 1st place in the 165+Lbs weight class in the University folkstyle division. Mel has been a big help in getting summer tournaments together and is also a referee for some of the freestyle tournaments.
So, who are those other dominant womens wrestling states that our wrestlers face? Much of the story can be seen in these team scores. Since there are no set teams, its a combination of numbers of competitors and the skills that they bring to the mat. For a very small state that has to travel (though we cant match Florida, Hawaii and the West Coast states for the miles) our girls and women acquitted themselves very well! Complete Results available at http://www.usgwa.com/results/2004/mi4-hs.html
A Little CT Womens Wrestling History
At the 2002 USGWA National Tournament I was there coaching the only Connecticut woman in the tournament. In 2003 a group of women from around New England got together and another group of women from CT got together and there were about 15 New England / CT women competing. This year at the 2004 USGWA National Tournament there were ten (10) Connecticut women competing from the Jr. High to the University level. The seven CT high school women managed to claim 7th place amongst the 34 states with wrestlers in the tournament. This was a significant accomplishment considering the fact that they were facing large teams from Texas and Hawaii who both have full state womens wrestling programs, and large teams from large states such as New York and California, and local states like Minnesota and Michigan (the host state).
Our CT women placed at various levels in a variety of high school weight classes. Our university woman and two Jr. high school girls also performed well. The girls and women from CT who wrestled in this tournament have a wide variety of backgrounds and experience levels. Some have been wrestling and competing for many years others have only a few years of experience. What they have in common is that they have sought out and taken advantage of the opportunities to wrestle in CT. Much of that wrestling, especially for younger girls, is against boys primarily in our youth and Jr. high school programs. Most of them have taken advantage of the womens tournaments that were held at various locations around New England in early 2004.
As the number of girls and women participating in wrestling in CT grow we move closer to the day when we will have a viable womens wrestling program in CT that truly provides our high school and older women the opportunity to compete with other women. So, if you are a girl or young woman and you think you would like to give one of the toughest sports in the world a try get in touch with your local school team or any of the 50+ USA Wrestling clubs in the state of CT. You can find information on these clubs at our web site: WWW.USAWCT.ORG. Step up to the challenge and help us build a great womens wrestling program in the state of Connecticut.