A seemingly typical Scarlet Knights wrestling practice continues in the iconic wrestling room. As Biggie and Pop Smoke blast on the loud, albeit beaten down sound system, the team goes through its drills. The team works through warm ups, conditioning, or goes to the weight room. Head Coach Bollette watches as the sweat drips onto the bright red mats and pushes his team when the drills get difficult. The team, donning their iconic all grey tracksuits, are determined to showcase their combination of strength, technique, and patience to succeed in their matchups. Business as usual.
This year’s team, however, is far from ordinary. Three girls, freshman Kyara Montoya, senior Alex Ferrone, and senior Jaitlin Mora, have joined the team and made a significant impact. Montoya has described her time on the team as, “an amazing experience.” She has been wrestling since the seventh grade and has continued to pursue the sport since then. The strength of the wrestling community has been an important factor in her decision to continue wrestling in high school. “My team is a huge family. We go through every loss and win together. All the guys are very supportive of me and have made me feel more than welcome,” she said. Junior Joe Recto, who has been wrestling as a Scarlet Knight since his freshman year said that “They’ve shown us that girls are just as capable of wrestling as boys are. They just keep on changing the sport by proving the naysayers wrong. They work extremely hard in the wrestling room which has been influential; as it motivates everyone else to work hard.” In addition, coaches Bolette and Sylvester continually advocate for the girls’ success and push them to become exceptional wrestlers. There has been no shortage of support for the girls, who continue to make waves as the season progresses. Mora finished 3rd at the Linn Crawn Memorial, while Montoya and Ferrone earned 6th place.
New Jersey made headlines this year by becoming the first state in the Northeast to make high school girls wrestling an official, state-sanctioned sport. Currently, wrestling is the fastest growing female sport in the state. This has paved the way for numerous other girls to pursue high school wrestling. Montoya hopes that girls will continue to wrestle and encourages female involvement in the sport. “It’s the girls who are wrestling right now that will change the future of the sport. You’re more than capable of doing it. Wrestling is 80% a mental challenge, and if you’re willing to put in the work you’ll grow a passion for the sport like no other.”