All Cristta Hartinger wanted was a chance to show she belonged on the wrestling team. One year year after she was denied a spot on the school's team, the 16-year-old was granted the opportunity to become the only girl on the Lancaster (N.Y.) High wrestling squad this season.
While she's finally getting the opportunity to compete, the Buffalo News reported that the road to get to this point hasn't been an easy one. Just last season, a school panel decided to deny Hartinger the opportunity to wrestle because it had concerns about the "muscle mass difference" and "social/pubertal issues."
Instead of letting the dream go, Hartinger's mother, Renee, decided to push the issue again this season, offering up the option of allowing her daughter to compete on the junior varsity team.
After some serious discussion, the panel finally agreed to let the teen wrestle. Despite being one of only a handful of female wrestlers in New York, the former model and cheerleader has been making strides in the sport. She even won her first match, against Frontier (N.Y.) High, on Dec. 28.
Growing up with brothers who wrestled in school -- including a younger brother who's a freshman on the team -- Hartinger knew early on that she wanted to give the sport a try.
The Buffalo News noted that Hartinger, training at the Cobra Wrestling Academy in Depew, has been making waves in the wrestling tournaments for girls over the last couple of years, finishing fourth in her weight class at the United States Girls' Wrestling Association national championships.
Her hard work and dedication to the sport made the transition to wrestling against boys fairly easy. In fact, most of Hartinger's male counterparts have been extremely impressed with her abilities.
"She knows a lot of advanced moves," Mike Kania, a freshman wrestler at Lancaster, told the Buffalo News. "She's powerful. She's quick. She's good."
Even though she's at a significant disadvantage in the muscle mass department, it's obvious Hartinger knows what she's doing when she steps on the mat. It'll be interesting to see if she can keep the momentum going and turn her first season wrestling against the boys into a special one.