Frederick Warrior Invite serves as a launching pad for girls wrestling

Frederick Warrior Invite girls wrestling

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

FREDERICK — Every plant needs to be seeded before it can grow.

Over the years, the participation numbers of girls in Colorado high school wrestling has only grown. There are questions as to what it would take for the numbers to reach the point that girls wrestling can become it's own sport.

And as with any new venture, there are concerns of the reception of the idea and how much early success will play a role into its growth.

If the overall support that the first girls-specific wrestling tournament is any indication, something special may have just been planted at Frederick High School.

The Warrior Invite featured seven girls only brackets consisting of 80 wrestlers representing 42 schools. Athletic director Ernie Derrera didn't host the tournament to gain recognition. As the chairman of the CHSAA wrestling committee, he had to be willing to do what we he was asking of others.

"One of the things I felt as chair of the committee was that if I was going to ask somebody else to do it, it was probably right for me to be able to step up and do it," Derrera said. "We have the facility, we have great volunteers who help us do this and we had a tournament that we were running anyway. So it made sense for us to be able to carry two of them up and get it done."

Hosting is only part of the battle though.

Participation numbers for girls wrestlers have only increased with each year. It's not uncommon anymore to see a girl wrestling on the floor at Pepsi Center in the state tournament.

But if girls wrestling is to become its own sanctioned sport, there has to be support from multiple sides.

"In the past, if you see a girl wrestling in a boys tournament you hear the chatter in the stands of, 'Hey, she's pretty good for a girl,'" Golden assistant coach Brooke Sauer said. "They don't mean anything negative by it, but (the girls) out of their element when they aren't given the same opportunity as the guys are."

Sauer knows what she's talking about. A 2006 graduate from Golden, she is the first girl in Colorado history to qualify for the state tournament. Now, just over a decade later she's coaching in the sport in which she excelled and to see it grow to the point that girls are able to compete in their own tournament is mind-blowing.

"Today, to hear how much positive talk there was, it took the (inequality) out of the equation," she said. "To see that speed planted, that girls can wrestle girls and that there's this big of a turnout, is huge."

Holyoke's Jessica Mosqueda received the honor of being the first girl to win an all-girls championship with a fall victory over Liberty's Naliah Rosales in the 101-pound final.

The overall feeling may not have sunk in yet in the moments following her win, but the impact of that victory did not escape her.

"It's amazing," Mosqueda said. "Wrestling girls, we know that we can do more and it just feels really special right now."

Even with seven girls brackets in the tournament, there were still girls who felt more comfortable competing against the guys and opted for that route. It paid off for Roosevelt's Angel Rios who came away with the 106 championship. There was no boy that could stop her on Saturday.

Frederick Warrior Invite girls wrestling

(Dan Mohrmann/CHSAANow.com)

"When I first started, I was 3-years-old and there weren't many girls," Rios said. "I basically grew up wrestling boys my whole life. It feels more like home."

Her first-place victory was a unique feat either as she had come away with a championship in the Roosevelt Invitational back on Dec. 10.

Saucer was quick to point out her accomplishment and acknowledge that she anticipates seeing Rios at Pepsi Center in February.

But for now, based on the results and turnout of the Warrior Invite, the idea of girls wrestling is not as far-fetched as it was even a month ago.

"I've had several coaches come up to me and say, 'Hey, what's next? Are you starting a girls team,'" Sauer said. "I think that's huge to have the support from everybody here."

She also pointed out that Derrera, Frederick and CHSAA took a huge leap of faith by moving forward with the tournament. But they all simply planted the seed. Only time will tell what will sprout as a result.