After battling the boys all season, sisters La'Rissa and Larresha Bryant-Coleman showed their skills against the girls as the New Haven wrestlers each claimed titles at the Maconaquah Regional on Jan. 4. Their championships at 182 and 195 pounds earned them top seeds for the third annual Indiana High School Girls Wrestling State Championships, set for 6 p.m. today at Hamilton Heights.
“Our girls are very strong. They've all won matches against (male) wrestlers, but when you put them on the mat against other females, that's when you can tell the difference,” New Haven coach Jimmy Linn said.
A third Bulldog wrestler – Alexandria Martz – will accompany the Bryant-Coleman sisters to Arcadia. Martz placed fifth at regionals at 195, but with just three wrestlers competing at that weight class at the Franklin Regional, she earned an invitation to fill out the bracket.
Though La'Rissa and Larresha competed in their first-ever girls-only event last week, they found a familiar face in Garrett's Angi Amburgey, the regional runner-up at 170 pounds.
“They were buddies,” Garrett coach Nick Kraus said. “They knew each other and they were rooting each other on.”
La'Rissa, a sophomore at New Haven, competed in wrestling in middle school before joining the Bulldog program as a freshman last season. Larresha, now in her second year wrestling for New Haven, joined her younger sister a season ago as a sophomore despite not competing in the sport during middle school.
With the sport's rapidly growing interest among girls, more area schools feature at least one girl on the roster.
Bellmont, the region's most storied wrestling program, which ranks second statewide with their 31 regional championships, never had a girl on the roster before this season. That wrestler, freshman Andrea Hernandez, added to the Braves' winning tradition by claiming the title at 132 pounds.
And while the strength difference between genders does manifest more at the upper weights, Linn explained that La'Rissa and Larresha hold their own against their male counterparts. Having the chance to compete in a girls state tournament will just allow their abilities to shine through.
“Since we have the girls that we have at the higher weights, it's an advantage that they wrestle our boys,” Linn said. “You can see the difference when they take the mat (against girls). Girls have been wrestling guys for the longest time, and now they can show their skills at more of a level playing field.”
If you go
What: 3rd annual Indiana High School Girls Wrestling State Finals
When: 6 p.m. today
Where: Hamilton Heights High School, 25802 SR 19, Arcadia
Cost: $10, children under 5 free
Area qualifiers: 98 pounds – Kat Ramsay, Southern Wells (4th at regionals); 120 – Haylee Brown, Warsaw (2nd at regionals); 126 – Taylor Wells, Southern Wells (2nd at regionals); 132 – Andrea Hernandez, Bellmont (Regional champion), Jordan Courter, Whitko (3rd at regionals); 138 – Trinity Coyne, Bellmont (4th at regionals); 170 – Angi Amburgey, Garrett (2nd at regionals), Amaya Sunderman, Huntington North (4th at regionals); 182 – Larissa Bryant-Coleman, New Haven (Regional champion); 195 – Larresha Bryant-Coleman, New Haven (Regional champion)