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Pisgah sends two wrestlers to first ever girls wrestling state championships

Feb. 5—Two Pisgah girls wrestlers are blazing a new trail all the way to Greensboro and the state championships.

"It's super special," Pisgah wrestling coach Ryan Gibson said. "They're the first two we've had. That's a big deal. It being an inaugural season, man, it's pretty cool. They don't realize how big this is yet, but it's big. It will pave the way for the future."

This year is the first official year of girls wrestling in North Carolina. Last year, some schools fielded teams and there was a state invitational tournament, but this is the first year that a female wrestler can win an official state title.

"I'm excited," Pisgah state-qualifying wrestler Treyleigh Miller said. "It's good to know that the boys can look at us now and see us stepping up to where they are. We get to go to the same place they do this year. It's not going to be different with just an invitational. We're all coming together."

Miller, a sophomore, and junior Paloma Ramirez both qualified for state this year by finishing in the top four of their weight classes at the West Regionals on Saturday in Hendersonville.

"It's honestly super cool," Ramirez said. "It's blowing my mind. To see how me and Treyleigh have both worked really hard throughout the season and place in the top four and make it to an official sanctioned state [championship] is really cool."

The wrestling for the day began at 10 a.m. with the opening round of the tournament. In that opening round, Miller (114 pounds) received a bye. Ramirez (165 pounds) and freshman Emhani Hollis (138 pounds) each picked up first-round wins.

Miller's first match took place in the quarterfinals. As the third period rolled along, Miller was down. She was able to force overtime by snagging two points.

"You just got to win," Miller said. "You just got to go. If you don't go, you're not going anywhere. I had to kick it into gear."

In overtime, she scored a takedown to go up 7-5 and win the match.

"It shows that their will and determination is like the guys," Gibson said. "Their expectations of themselves are the same that we have for everybody. We push them in practice and those matches are ones we have to win."

Miller then won her semifinal match with a quick pin, locking up a top-four spot and a berth in the state championships.

In the championship final, Miller lost via a decision.

Ramirez followed her opening win with a victory by decision in the quarterfinals and a semifinal pin. The semifinal victory locked up a spot in Greensboro for the junior, before she dropped the championship final via pin — Ramirez's first loss of the season.

"I'm really excited to see what things I can do there and what things I need to improve in my senior year," Ramirez said.

Hollis dropped her quarterfinal match, but she kept on fighting.

Wins in the consolation second and third rounds sent Hollis to the consolation semifinals with a state spot on the line.

The match finished with Hollis on the losing side — going down by a slim 7-6 decision, meaning the freshman was just a mere point away from a trip to Greensboro.

While the other three girls on the team lost their opener, their days were far from over.

Senior Aiyana Bryant (100 pounds) won her first consolation match before going down in the second consolation round.

Sophomore Kayla Figgins (145 pounds) made it to the third consolation round before losing on a buzzer-beating pin. Figgins was up three points in that match and was pinned with just one second left on the clock. A win would've sent her to the consolation semifinals and just one more victory away from state.

"We wrestled really tough today," Gibson said. "I saw a lot of grit and determination out of a lot of them. Working hard in practice has paid off. Some of them came up a little short, but overall I was really, really pleased with how well they wrestled, especially with some of these girls being freshmen and this year being the first time they had stepped on the mat."

Freshman Keliy Foster (185) lost her opening match but fought all the way to the consolation semifinals. A victory would've sent the freshman to Greensboro along with her two teammates already in the championship finals.

However, Foster went down via fall at the end of the second period.

As a whole, the team scored enough points to finish sixth. In girls' wrestling, there is no classification breakup, meaning there were 60 teams in the North Henderson gym with various numbers of wrestlers on their teams.

The Pisgah girls' team has just six wrestlers, not enough to fill each of the 12 weight classes.

"It shows what we could do if we could get more girls to come out. And it shows what we can do next year because these girls will be back," Gibson said. "They want to come out and give it a try. It's more of a rewarding sport than people think, but it's a lot of hard work. If they come out and give it a shot, you never know."

Miller said she hopes the results will encourage more girls to join the Pisgah wrestling team.

"I hope that more girls see what we've done and want to join — see what we can do and that they can do it too," Miller said. "Just because they're girls, it's not going to change anything."

This weekend, the boys' team will compete at regionals in the home gym at Pisgah. The following weekend, Miller, Ramirez and whichever members of the boys' team qualify will head to Greensboro to compete in the state championships.

"It's really cool," Ramirez said. "There's people you don't even know you cheering for you. I think at state it's going to be very different because there are going to be thousands of people. It's a great feeling."