Girls Wrestling Starting Strong At Chautauqua Lake

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Girls Wrestling Starting Strong At Chautauqua Lake,

Pictured, in front, from left, are: Alexandra Siliano, Rylee Buxton and Mia Smith. In the middle are: Rachel Curtin, secondary principal; Brooke Feldt; Gabriella Testa; Madison Szymanowksi; and Emily Dorman, girls wrestling advisor. In back are: Jeff Angeletti, athletic director; Josh Liddell, superintendent; Ken Rowe, boys wrestling coach; and Peter Dorman, girls wrestling coach.
Submitted photo

MAYVILLE — Girls wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country at the collegiate and high school levels. There are currently 32 states in the nation sanctioning girls high school wrestling programs.

The Chautauqua Lake Central School athletic Department is doing its part to help support the potential to have girls wrestling sanctioned in New York state.

In 2018, Alex Conti was named as the Section VI women’s director and has been assisted by Brad Rowe since the 2019-20 season. Rowe has joined Conti as part of the New York State Women’s Wrestling Task Force spearheaded by Kyra Berry, USA Women’s Wrestling team leader for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games squad. The task force has been extremely busy these past four years and has seen growth and interest at all levels, including from Todd Nelson, the assistant director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, and other wrestling programs and athletic leaders in sections across the state.

Since 2018, at the front of the charge, has been Section VI and Chautauqua Lake Central School District, led by Superintendent Dr. Josh Liddell and Coach Peter Dorman.

“The Chautauqua Lake district, our wrestling coaches and board have been, and will continue to be, in full-support of women’s wrestling. We know that this is an emerging sport, an Olympic event and that numerous collegiate programs have scholarships opportunities for female wrestlers,” Liddell said. “We want to ensure that at the high school level this opportunity is available to not only Chautauqua Lake student-athletes, but any and all female wrestlers in our region.”

Chautauqua Lake is presently a host school for any female wrestlers in the region that want to practice and/or compete together.

In New York state there are only two official girls wrestling teams, Bayshore and Rocky Point, and both of these schools reside in Section XI. Chautauqua Lake’s girls wrestling team will be the third in the state and the first girls wrestling program ever in Western New York. Under the leadership of Timm Slade, former Section VI executive director, the section held the first ever “sanctioned” women’s wrestling championship tournament during the 2018-19 season. The championship hosted 47 female wrestlers from five different sections and was held at Niagara County Community College.

The next year, through the efforts of Kathy Hoyt, Section V executive director, the end-of-year tournament was held at SUNY Brockport. It ran alongside the Section V Boys State Qualifier and drew 61 female participants from the upstate and Western New York area.

Chautauqua Lake conducted surveys with the female student population, and the female students’ results matched the national surveys’ results.

“Girls want to wrestle, but they want to compete against other girls. We have had about 10 young women attend a practice and have settled into a group of seven who are learning skills, practicing hard and having fun,” Dorman said. “Some of our girls have experience wrestling. They competed in the past, but left the sport as they got older. They didn’t want to compete on boys teams against boys. The new girls wrestling team at Chautauqua Lake is motivated and excited for their new opportunity to compete again.”

Chautauqua Lake Central School is hosting the first standalone girls invitational wrestling tournament in the area Saturday. The tournament is open to the public and first matches start at 9:30 a.m. The tournament organizers have confirmations from schools in Section VI and Section V that are bringing their girls to compete.

“Tournament invitations were sent to schools across New York and Pennsylvania. Our goal is to showcase girls wrestling and provide the athletes with an opportunity to compete on an even playing field,” said Jeff Angeletti, Chautauqua Lake athletics supervisor. “We will also be hosting the girls sectional championship on Feb. 19. This tournament will be open to girls in Section V and Section VI.”

Several area teams have stepped up and created girls divisions within their wrestling tournaments. This has created opportunities for the Chautauqua Lake team to have a solid tournament schedule.

Currently there are five tournaments scheduled for the Western New York area, along with the Feb. 19 championship tournament.

The tournaments are: Chautauqua Lake All-Girls Wrestling Tournament, Dec. 4; North Tonawanda JV and Girls Wrestling Tournament, Dec. 11; Linda Knuutila Memorial Wrestling Tournament (Girls Division), Dec. 17-18; Eden JV and Girls Wrestling Tournament, Dec. 28; and Falconer Women’s Wrestling Tournament, Jan. 16.

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