Female wrestler makes Minn. prep sports history
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- For a few minutes after her historic moment, Elissa Reinsma was like any other athlete. She was upset with her loss March 4 in the first round of the Minnesota high school wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center. In...
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- For a few minutes after her historic moment, Elissa Reinsma was like any other athlete.
She was upset with her loss March 4 in the first round of the Minnesota high school wrestling tournament at the Xcel Energy Center.
In the staging area, the sophomore from Fulda/Murray County Central threw her headgear to the floor and yelled in frustration as Fulda coach Dan Blankenship tried to calm her down. After a short walk, the slender 103-pounder was smiling as she faced a crowd of reporters and TV cameras. The moment had finally sunk in.
"This was a dream come true for me," Reinsma said after her 9-2 loss in Class AA to Jacoby Bergeron, a sophomore at Thief River Falls/Goodridge. "I hope this inspires other girls to do the same thing."
Reinsma, the first girl to compete in the Minnesota wrestling tournament, shook off her disappointment long enough to be a spokesperson for a breakthrough night in the 72-year history of the sport.
About 5,000 spectators cheered Reinsma when she entered the arena for match No. 703 on mat four. Wearing a black warm-up shirt with the word "Freak" on her right sleeve, Reinsma fidgeted like a boxer in the corner as she waited to be announced.
She heard more cheers after the customary handshake with Bergeron. During the match, fans could be heard shouting encouragement to her, though one fan in particular was drowned out.
"This was the first time I couldn't hear my mom on the sidelines," Reinsma said. "The atmosphere here was pretty nice."
Several members of Reinsma's family and a group of Fulda/Murray County Central supporters attended the match.
Bergeron appeared too strong for Reinsma, who was forced out of the circle at least seven times and couldn't get Bergeron in position for a takedown. Reinsma's best opportunity came in the second round when she was standing behind Bergeron and attempted a "low-leg single," a move Blankenship described as a wrestler trying to pick up the opponent and slam him to the mat.
Reinsma slipped to the mat trying to execute the move, and Bergeron was awarded points. Blankenship credited Reinsma for putting on a "strong display" despite all the attention.
"She did very well considering the situation," said Blankenship, who has coached Reinsma since she was in seventh grade. "This was her first time going through something like this. The main thing is that she didn't get pinned."
Reinsma was asked if she plans to wrestle next season. Without hesitation, she nodded.
"Of course," she said. "I like what I'm doing. I want to keep going and try to get better."
Reinsma is a libero on the Murray County Central volleyball team and plays left field for the school's softball team, but wrestling has put her in the spotlight, something she admitted has taken her awhile to get used to. She said she had no trouble sleeping the night before and that several coaches and wrestlers from other schools offered well wishes to her after the match day weigh-in.
Reinsma generated mild concern among fans when she suffered a cut on her forehead and started to bleed under her protective cap. The match was stopped momentarily while Blankenship and an assistant wiped her forehead.
If anybody had thoughts of females not belonging on the mat, Reinsma threw out that notion by darting right back into the circle to take on Bergeron again.
"I just wish I could have gotten a couple of takedowns when I had the chance," she said. "I missed a few chances early, and that pretty much changed the whole match for me."