Irving—Over a thousand girls and women competed in the 2021 Women’s Nationals Wrestling Competition held in the Irving Convention Center, May 7-9. The competitors, ages 6 to 23 years old, were divided by age and weight with the top wrestlers competing for places on the adult and junior World Teams and Panam Team.
“I am a U.S. representative for the Olympics Events Department,” Christina Hargrove, a coach and lead organizer for the event, said. “This is the only World Team trial in the United States, and the only freestyle competition for women each year.
“Wrestling gives girls a lot of confidence and discipline. You are part of a team, but you are the only one out there on the mat. You have to be confident to go out there and do this. But you also have to work and train as a team and support the other girls on your team. This is such a good sport for young girls.
“The energy levels at these events are so high. For some reason, women’s wrestling has such a comradery, and they are all cheering for each other. These girls travel in a pack and support each other, even if they will be wrestling against each other the next moment.”
Irving was chosen for this competition intentionally.
“Texas has a really strong hold on women’s wrestling, so we wanted this competition to be here to be more central for these athletes,” Hargrove said. “The neighboring states also have a growing number of athletes who will attend the event. We wanted to find a place to have this that would allow for many people to attend fairly easily. Irving is a good location, because it is close to the airport and can accommodate all the athletes and coaches. Also, the Baylor Scott and While Hospital staff volunteers to be trainers at the event, which is such a help to us.”
“Women’s wrestling is the fastest growing sport in the country, so we can only expect this competition to continue to grow throughout the years,” Hargrove said. “This year we had a total of 1,183 women competing.”
Korina Blades is a 16 year old competitor who placed in both the Junior World Team and Cadet World Team during this competition.
“My sister and I were energetic and hands on with each other growing up,” Blades said. “I feel like we learn so much in this sport. We learn discipline as we are training. It is tough to be disciplined when you are following a diet or cutting weight, for example. Or [to be at] all of the practices when you may want to see your friends. But it is worth it.
“I feel like it is a fun sport overall. There is blood, sweat, and tears for sure, but when you win, it feels so good. It feels good for yourself, of course, but also you get to inspire younger girls to try wrestling as well. I really hope other girls will decide to enter into the sport.”
“I decided to get into wrestling because I am a rough kid, and I like working hard,” 13 year old Morgan Turner said. “I am doing this so I can be an Olympian.
“I am learning how to be disciplined and be respectful. It helps me personally, because I really want to use my body and fight for what I want. In this, I am able to do that in a way that gets me closer to my goals. I work with my coach and my mom, and it is tough, but I am a winner, and I can do this.”