The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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Girls varsity wrestling participates at the Virginia State Tournament

Harika Akundi
Two girl wrestlers are up against each other, with sophomore Jayelle Jones from Jefferson positioned atop her opponent. “It was a great experience. [It was] really difficult but I absolutely recommend it to girls especially. We can wrestle boys and we can fight. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise,” senior Harika Akundi said.

On Feb. 23 and 24, the Jefferson Girls Varsity Wrestling team had their last meet– the Virginia State competition at Garfield High School. They competed against approximately 300 girls from all over Virginia. The competition was open to all girl wrestlers in the state to promote the growth of girls wrestling as a sport. 

“Girls wrestling is an emerging sport and technically not even sanctioned by VHSL. It’s not really big enough to [divide] JV and Varsity girls, so everyone is on the varsity team, making it open to beginners and advanced players. It’s an individual sport where we show up as a team but wrestle 1v1 matches against people from other schools in our same weight class,” junior Sarah Castillo said. 

Although it’s not a fully developed sport yet, the team still has practice after school on weekdays like every other sport. As they got further into the season, they added Saturday workouts for an hour as well. 

“We practice 2.5 hours [from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.] after school, and we’ve been practicing since November for States,” senior Harika Akundi said. 

Amidst their regular training, freshman Emily Toth benefited from additional training sessions. 

“Before the Co-Ed wrestling postseason started, we would go to a scrimmage every week at a local high school, which was a great opportunity to practice,” freshman Emily Toth said. 

Throughout the season, they had strength and endurance training. Similarly to a match, most of the practices consisted of running moves and doing live wrestling, which is where they wrestle another teammate.

“In the first couple weeks, practices were pretty hard for me. I started wrestling this year, but before that, I played soccer for around 7 years and dance for around 4, so it was a big shift for me to go into such a physically intense sport, but it was one hundred percent worth it. Because of wrestling, I’ve felt stronger and more confident than ever before,” Toth said. “After the first couple weeks, I looked forward to practicing almost every day and I’ve made so many great memories in just a few months.”

Despite the physical challenges Toth and the absence of any girls placing in this state tournament, they collectively plan on practicing and want to make sure they manage their nerves during the matches to improve their performance. 

“Before my first matches, I’m always very nervous, which is something I’ve been working on. A lot of wrestling is the mental game and having confidence during the match. I was a bit nervous before the match, but overall I felt more excited to compete for one of the last times of the season,” Toth said. 

The team agrees it was a nerve-racking tournament, however, they have been waiting the entire season for this meet so it was the culmination of everything they have worked for. 

“The entire event was pretty memorable. Watching some of my teammate’s matches felt almost as intense as wrestling my own. There aren’t many girls on the team so you form some really close bonds,” Castillo said.

Because this was some of the girls’ first year wrestling, they are going to get more practice with drills and conditions.

“I feel we did alright, but want to improve before next year. During the off-season, I plan to go to a bunch of clinics and do more strength and endurance training to improve overall,” Toth said. 

With the practice they have gotten this year, Toth claims it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done, but it made her a “better, stronger, and smarter person,” and can’t wait to see what the next season brings. 

“Overall, I think that wrestling is an amazing sport. I would have never imagined that I would be doing this earlier this year, but the experience has been amazing. I’ve learned so much in just a few months,” Toth said. Staying dedicated is one of the most important parts, because even though it can be difficult at times, that is when improvements are made. The thing I’m most proud of this season is the fact that I never gave up and improved so much during the season.”

Not only has the team gained physically, but they also gained a new community of friends by joining the team. Apart from the girls love for wrestling, the wrestling community being supportive is one of the reasons most of them stuck with the sport. There isn’t much participation in girls wrestling, however, the team continues to work to recruit new members. 

“I’ve made great friendships, especially with the girls, not just from TJ, but from [schools] we compete against. I would recommend wrestling to all the girls at TJ, because there is such a great community and it challenges you to improve yourself in so many ways,” Toth said. 

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