Mid Valley adds girls wrestling program

Jan. 24—Wrestling continues to rise at Mid Valley High School.

Three months after the school added a boys wrestling program, the sport garnered enough interest to become the 94th Pennsylvania high school to sanction a girls wrestling team Monday.

"It's excited and (Mid Valley athletic director) Tom (Nowakowski) and I had talked at the beginning of the season that it's something we've wanted," Mid Valley coach Dennis Hricenak said. "We have four varsity girls who have been wrestling the whole season so once we knew we had some girls then the school board approved it and we sent in our paperwork to the state."

The Lady Spartans join District 2's Delaware Valley, Western Wayne, Honesdale, Wallenpaupack, Montrose, Hanover Area, Nanticoke Area, Hazleton Area and Wilkes-Barre Area among the 94 schools to sanction girls wrestling.

The PIAA needs 100 schools to add a program before it considers sanctioning a sport.

"It's pretty motivating," Mid Valley senior Jaime Henderson said. "I jumped into a sport that I had no idea anything about. It's my senior year. It feels really good. I hope that the upcoming girls see that as an inspiration and they step up and they want to be a wrestler like us and do big things."

Henderson is one of four Mid Valley girls wrestlers, including seniors Amanda Ortiz and Abigail Saverslak and sophomore Sydnee MacDonald.

"My dad is a big-time wrestler. He's been wrestling since he was like seven," Henderson said of how she got into the sport. "Just the inspiration from him, me and my little brother both on the team together. I think it was back in November they brought it up at a school meeting and I went as a joke but I was actually truly interested. It was something that I thought I would really like. The aggression is there. You're putting in the work, the mentality. It's great."

The girls already competed in three tournaments, including the Tony Iasiello Memorial Christmas City and Coal Cracker events, and wrestled between to 12 to 15 matches each, according to Hricenak.

"Tom and I said let's see how they do and we were kind of scheduling as we were going, trying to match up with the boys schedule when they had a girls tournament and just see if the girls liked it," Hricenak said. "Once we went to the first tournament, which they all did very well at, then it just kept improving. They kept getting better day by day and then this past weekend we wrestled at the Coal Cracker and there were I believe close to 280 girls in the tournament. They had to put it in a different building."

In just three months, Mid Valley has 14 varsity boys wrestlers, four girls wrestlers and seven in junior high. Not yet a member of the Lackawanna League, the boys are scheduled to wrestle their first exhibition dual meet Feb. 1 at Scranton Prep.

"Our coaches are amazing," Henderson said. "They've been here from top to bottom. They're constantly pushing us, making sure we're doing what we need to do. It's really a mental game. You're out there by yourself. You're putting in the work. There's nobody else with you out there. Just working on yourself is great."

Contact the writer: jbaress@timesshamrock.com