No. 3 story of the 2010s: Aztec hosts first-ever regular-season girls wrestling tournament

Matt Hollinshead, mhollinshead@daily-times.com

FARMINGTON — Aztec’s Lillywhite Gym was front and center for a watershed moment in New Mexico’s wrestling scene: the first-ever regular-season girls wrestling tournament.

The Land of Enchantment's top female wrestlers took to the mats on Jan. 25, twisting, spinning and throwing each other around.

They showcased that they can hold their own and put on a show just like their male counterparts.

Princess Altisi and Makayla Munoz represented Aztec at the tournament, which also featured competitors from Gallup, Miyamura, Belen, Bernalillo, Albuquerque Academy, Cleveland, Los Alamos, Durango, Kirtland Central, Shiprock and Newcomb.

Miyamura and Gallup had the highest number of registered participants (seven and four entries, respectively), but the remaining squads, which had one or two female wrestlers per team, fought to the bitter end in their matches, establishing their place in history.

Gloria Ramos of Los Alamos pins Miyamura's Nizhoni Largo of Miyamura to the ground during a 143-pound division match at the first annual girls wrestling tournament on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

Girls wrestling is already a state-sanctioned sport in states such as Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas.

New Mexico’s working its way toward that making girls wrestling a state-sanctioned sports as well, though it doesn’t yet have enough female wrestlers to sustain a full schedule to fall into that category.

However, the Jan. 25 tournament was an essential step in continuously growing the sport.

It presented another key avenue for female wrestlers to start envisioning competing at the college level and to start building their wrestling portfolios.

The competitors embraced taking center stage because of the bigger picture.

In the 2017-2018 season, 115 female wrestlers had weight assessments for the sport. Just last season, that number spiked to 165.

The goal is to see girls wrestling keep trending toward relevancy across the Land of Enchantment.

Cleveland's Sam Tuttle looks to attack Miyamura's Yele Aycock in a 131-pound division match during the first annual girls wrestling tournament on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019 at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.