The best time to make history is in the infancy of a movement. Skyview High School graduate Michaela Hutchison is doing just that in women's collegiate wrestling.
On Saturday at the Women's College Wrestling Association National Championships at Missouri Valley College, Hutchison, a sophomore, won her weight class for the second year in a row. Wrestling at 55 kg/121 lbs, Hutchison defeated Shauna Isbell of Lindenwood Univeristy in the championship match.
Hutchison also helped Oklahoma City University defend its team title. In early January, Hutchison also had helped OCU win its third straight National Wrestling Coaches Association Nationals Duals women's wrestling championship. Hutchison earned a fall in the championship dual against Simon Fraser of British Columbia. OCU finished undefeated in duals this season.
This is not the first time Hutchison has made history. In 2006, Hutchison became the first female wrestler in the country to win an individual high school championship competing against boys. Hutchison defeated Colony's Aaron Boss 1-0 in the Class 4A Alaska State Wrestling Championships, producing a roar so loud that former Clarion sports reporter and current managing editor Will Morrow vividly remembers it to this day.
Three years to the day after that historic victory over Boss, Hutchison became the first woman to compete in an Oklahoma men's college dual, according to OCU. Hutchison lost that match.
According to an article in the Kansas City Star (see link at the bottom of this column), women's collegiate wrestling is starting to get more and more popular.
The WCWA National Championships started in 2004, with only five or six colleges competing annually. Twelve schools were at Saturday's meet. Four schools have started women's wrestling and joined the WCWA in the past two years, with another set to start next year. There were 132 women competing this year, up from about 45 three years ago.
The popularity of women's wrestling also is spreading to more areas of the country. OCU has women from 13 different states on its roster.
"It was well-attended and the quality was higher than other years," OCU coach Archie Randall, the WCWA coach of the year, told themat.com about this year's national championships. "That is what the most impressive thing was this year. It was a phenomenal tournament."
The crowd at the meet on Saturday was estimated at only 200 people, but if collegiate wrestling continues to grow in popularity, perhaps one day wrestling historians will look back and point to Hutchison as one of the key pioneers in giving women a place in wrestling.
You don't need me to tell you how tight this year's North Star Conference tournament will be.
I could list quote after quote from various coaches' mouths backing that assertion up, but I'd rather let the scoreboard do the talking for me. Below is a list of results of the 2009-10 NSC games in order of seeding.
* 1) Wasilla: NSC record of 9-1-0: Its only loss came after the Warriors were forced to forfeit a win over Palmer for allowing an ineligible player to skate.
* 2) Palmer: NSC record of 8-2-0: Besides a loss to Wasilla, Soldotna defeated Palmer 4-2.
* 3) Kenai: NSC record of 5-5-0: vs. Palmer, 5-0 loss, 3-2 OT loss; vs. Homer, 7-1 win, 8-2 win; vs. SoHi (in conference), 3-2 OT win, 2-1 win; vs. Colony, 6-4 win, 7-6 OT loss; vs. Wasilla, 4-2 loss, 4-2 loss.
* 4) SoHi: NSC record of 4-5-1: vs. Wasilla, 4-3 loss, 3-1 loss; vs. Colony, 1-1 tie, 3-2 OT win; vs. Kenai, 3-2 OT loss, 2-1 loss; vs. Palmer, 4-2 win, 2-1 loss; vs. Homer, 7-0 win, 8-0 win.
* 5) Colony: NSC record of 2-7-1: Colony defeated Homer 13-2 and Kenai 7-6 in overtime.
* 6) Homer: NSC record of 1-9-0: vs. Palmer, 8-1 loss, 6-2 loss; vs. Wasilla, 6-4 loss, 7-0 loss; vs. Colony, 13-2 loss, 6-5 win; vs. Kenai, 8-2 loss, 7-1 loss; vs. SoHi, 7-0 loss, 8-0 loss.
Even sixth-seeded Homer has shown it can skate with top-seeded Wasilla. The Mariners were up a pair of goals on the Warriors in a recent 6-4 loss. Homer has also beat Colony, which defeated third-seeded Kenai.
The tournament is as unpredictable as it gets. It should make for exciting, down-to-the-wire games.
Mike Nesper and Jeff Helminiak work in the sports department at the Peninsula Clarion. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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