PHOTO: Pictured is RBR’s Girls Wrestling Team and coaches with RBR Athletic Director who helped organized the first ever New Jersey State Girls’ Wrestling Tournament held at RBR on February 17. They are: Assistant Girls wrestling Coach Patrick Tedeschi; wrestlers Joanna Jimenez, Red Bank; Bella Ybarra, Red Bank; Athletic Director Del Dal Pra; wrestler Sheridan Torres, Little Silver, and Girls’ Wrestling Coach Scott Ferris.
LITTLE SILVER, NJ - On February 17, Red Bank Regional (RBR) hosted the first ever New Jersey Girls Wrestling Regional Tournament. RBR Athletic Director Del Dal Pra and Girls’ Wrestling Coach Scott Ferris were key to organizing the tournament.
Athletic Director Del Dal Pra states, “We are delighted that 305 girls from 95 schools all participated in the event with all parts of the state represented from High Point to Lower Cape May and Red Bank to Trenton.”
Girls Wrestling was newly sanction as a sport by the NJSIAA Executive Committee this past October. Both the North and South divisions participated in the event which covers 10 weight classes ranging from 100 to 235 pounds.
RBR had three participants in the event. Senior Sheridan Torres from Little Silver put RBR girls; wrestling on the map when she arrived as a freshman with a five time national title championship in Grappling, a division of the mixed-martial sport she practiced.
“I had always been a fighter,” Sheridan explains, “And when I first came to RBR Coach Ferris found me and I played on the boys wrestling team for the past four years.”
Sheridan is also ranked second in the state in her weight class of 118 pounds. She came in second in her class at the tournament and will represent RBR at the March 2 at the North Region State Championship in Atlantic City.
Joining Sheridan for the tournament was senior Bella Ybarra from Red Bank. Bella is ranked third in her 136-pound category which is populated with 23 girls. Bella has been wrestling with the boys’ team since she was a sophomore switching from swimming as her sport of choice. She too practiced the mixed martial arts practicing kickboxing and jujitsu.
PHOTO: Bella Ybarra practices just prior to taking part in the first ever New Jersey Girls Wrestling Regional Tournament held at RBR on Sunday, February 17. Bella, as her teammates, practices with an RBR male wrestler in her weight class. For the past three years, the girls have competed on the boys’ team. Their male peers have been very supportive of the girls in prepping them for the state competition.
Bella summed up her experiencing with wresting stating, “At first it was a just a sport to me but eventually it became so much more. It just does something for your self-confidence, not just as a person or a student but as a woman.” She adds, “Some people claim girls shouldn’t wrestle; that it is a boy’s sport, but it is so amazing being here and looking at all these strong women. I feel a kinship with them and they really support you.”
Rounding out RBR’s girls’ state tournament participants was freshman Joanna Jimenez from Red Bank. Joanna first practiced a contact sport when she followed her brother in boxing. A former soccer player, Joanna now concentrates her efforts in wrestling stating, “I really love it. I just love coming to the matches.”
Assistant Coach Patrick Tedeschi opines on the importance of expanding this sport for girls stating “Until this, girl wrestlers’ only option was to wrestle with boys. While they did win matches, when given the opportunity to wrestle other girls it is a lot more exciting. They feel like they have a better shot of winning with girls.”
While RBR will graduate its two longest participating girl wrestlers this year, the recruitment is ongoing to build up RBR’s future girls’ wrestling team.
Patrick Tedeschi states, “We are hoping that successful and fun events like this one will attract girls into the sport and the possibilities it offers.”