Soldotna's Melina Hutchison, arguably the best female wrestler in Alaska, is ready to test her skills Outside.
Hutchison will be competing against the top female wrestlers in the country starting today at the U.S. Women's Nationals in Las Vegas.
"They say it's really tough there," Hutchison said.
Hutchison knows what tough competition is. She was the first female wrestler to advance to ASAA's state championship meet, and the first female wrestler to win a match once she got there.
Hutchison already has fared well in competitions in the Lower 48. She went to the finals of the United States Girls Wrestling Association National Championships last year, and made the Junior National team last summer, earning herself a trip to Poland for the Junior World Championships.
Those tournaments, though, were limited to competitors in Hutchison's own age bracket. The U.S. Nationals is an open tournament, and Hutchison will be facing the best wrestlers in the country.
While she has been turning heads in the wrestling community in her four-year career, there's at least one more eye she'd like to have notice her in Las Vegas.
"One of the competitors is the lady that coaches at one of the colleges (Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky.) I want to go to," Hutchison said. "They won't be able to ignore me there."
Hutchison, for the most part, has wrestled against boys here in Alaska. She has experience wrestling against female competition, but she expects to see a whole different level of competition at the U.S. Nationals.
"Most of the (girls here) still don't have the experience like the women down there will," she said.
Hutchison doesn't expect to be seeded, but she said she wants to wrestle her best every match.
"I'm going to surprise some people," Hutchison said.
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