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South Valley Riverton Journal

‘Amazing’ sport of girls wrestling catching on at Riverton

Dec 01, 2023 11:13AM ● By Josh McFadden

The Riverton girls wrestling team. (Photo courtesy Becca Hamilton)

When the Utah High School Activities Association decided to sanction girls wrestling for the 2020–21 school year, the news was met with mixed reviews. 

Some people thought the sport wasn’t for girls, though many people celebrated the news. Some high school teams around the state already had girls participating on the boys team. The move to allow official girls wrestling teams has been a popular one. 

Riverton head coach Becca Hamilton is happy the girls get to go up against one another and participate in something they enjoy. 

“It’s very exciting for the girls to be able to compete, especially with other females. It makes tournaments and duals more fun to watch,” she said. 

The Silverwolves have a wide range of girls on the team when it comes to experience and skill level. But Hamilton believes the sport is open to anyone.

“Wrestling is an amazing sport built for any body and any experience,” she said. “You just have to start. Currently, we have a pretty equal team; we have advanced girls, intermediate and our beginning girls. The only difference between the two is the more experienced girls have had time to figure out how the sport works and their way of wrestling.”

Hamilton also said wrestling allows girls with different skills, strengths and interests to succeed and have fun. And though it is more of an individual sport than others, team unity is crucial. 

“With wrestling, it’s not a cookie-cutter sport, so what works well for some doesn’t for others, and that’s just fine,” she said. “And honestly, I think that adds to our strengths because our opponents can’t expect a cookie-cutter reaction. The girls have their ‘what’ of wrestling. Our girls are resilient; they are able to recover mentally and physically from tough matches. Wrestling is an individual sport, but we are able to build that camaraderie.”

Riverton’s top two wrestlers are junior Mina Trinh (105-pound class) and senior Bella Butterfield (110). Not only do they perform well on the mat, but they lead by example and help the less experienced wrestlers. 

“Our top competitors perform well because they apply themselves at practice and at tournaments,” Hamilton said. “They face tough matches with a good head on their shoulders. Top competitors are great examples to girls that are still growing to show that tough matches are achievable and rewarding and that the hard work is going to be worth it in the end—that they are capable of anything they apply themselves to and put their minds to.”

Hamilton would still like to see the number of participants increase on the team. When a team member is ill or has to miss practice for some other reason, it can be difficult for the others to find a partner to go against. Sometimes, a wrestler in one weight class has to move up or down a weight class just to get some practice in. This isn’t ideal because Hamilton prefers for her girls to practice against girls in the same weight class as they will compete against in regular matches. 

To bolster the team’s numbers, Hamilton isn’t afraid to do some in-school recruiting. 

“We try to overcome this by reeling in any girl that walks by the wrestling room and telling everyone to bring a friend,” she said. “‘Just try it,’ is what you’d often hear if you come into the doorway of the wrestling room.”

This season, Hamilton hopes the girls continue to have fun and improve every day. She wants every team member to have a positive experience, win or lose. What’s more important to her is that the girls get better, enjoy themselves and keep learning. 

“My goals and expectations as a coach is to have the girls go out and compete their best, trying new moves and having fun,” she said. “Every coach wants state placers, but I don’t feel like you’re going to get the best results out of athletes that don’t enjoy the sport. I don’t expect them to win every match, but I do expect them to learn every match.” λ