Five children sat along the printed Doherty rug on Saturday night.
Of those five, a lone girl was in the group – witnessing the first iteration of the Metro Wrestling Championships under the newly renovated Spartan house lights that featured girls.
She watched Doherty, one of the top women’s wrestling teams in the state, win the tag team title, as well as three Spartans winning individual titles. In a way, she saw the future of the sport – a look into the crystal ball of an event that has been banned for so long, if only for girls.
“I was just glad we even had the opportunity,” said 127-pound winner Sarah Savidge. “It’s great that we are finally recognized as women. I’m happy that we were able to fight in this tournament, it’s fun to be there.
“I’m so glad I got to compete before I graduated.”
Savidge joined 100-pound winner, Katey Valdez and 118-pound winner, Naomi Kidd for Doherty.
John Greene was also named Assistant Coach of the Year for Doherty, while Savidge won Outstanding Senior Student Athlete of the Year. Alongside the Spartan winners, Jason Romero of Palmer Ridge was named top trainer in the region, Mia Hargrove of Discovery Canyon received the Outstanding Lightweight Wrestler award and Aspen Barber of Palmer Ridge won the Outstanding Heavyweight Girls award.
The Doherty team is more than the school, however.
Mitchell and Palmer also have competitors on the pseudo-District 11 team. Coronado is the only school in the district with its own team, though Savidge hopes that will change.
Heading into the final matches, Doherty was in line with Discovery Canyon for a tag team title. Leading the Thunder was a former Spartan in Victoria Guinard.
Prior to Saturday, Guinard had won 19 consecutive matches to start the year. She was part of Doherty’s team last year before Discovery Canyon formed its own district team, but for District 20.
Naturally, her second-place finish after being pinned by Barber earned the Spartans victory with three fights to go. The latter was at the top of the podium as the individual winner of the Bears.
Of Doherty’s three individual champions, two came by pin, with Kidd by major decision, 11-2.
While other teams seemed calculated, coach Jason Masias encouraged his team to be aggressive – to fight for points and wins, rather than waiting for them.
“I think this sport is more physical than football or something like that,” Masias said. “My team’s aggression just shows they’re hungry. They want to go for the win and attack our opponents – do whatever it takes.”
The biggest advantage for Masias is not victory, nor individual titles. It’s the fact that his nieces, with whom he often fights for fun, will finally have the opportunity to show their talents.
And if they’re good enough, get on the same podium as the boys.
“I love it,” Masias said. “I always talk to my nieces about getting into wrestling and sometimes bring them into the room to watch our girls wrestle and show them how strong they can be as women.
“It’s history. We’re part of history, and I love being part of it. I hope it continues and more girls can be crowned champions.”
As the event progresses, it will only grow.
COVID-19 kept several female wrestlers out of the girls’ inaugural event, but they too will return next year.
For now, the Spartans are only focused on adding hardware to their box in the form of a state title.
“We just have to work and keep working,” Savidge said.
Final team classification
1. Doherty – 127.5
2. Discovery Canyon – 118
3. Palmer Ridge – 77
4. Mesa Ridge – 74
5. Coronado – 70
6. Forest Park – 62
7. Alamosa – 58
8. Fontaine-Fort Carson – 56
9. Manitou Springs – 30
10. Pistol – 28
Individual zone winners
100 – Katey Valdez, Doherty
105 – Mia Hargrove, Canyon of Discovery
118 – Naomi Kidd, Doherty
127 – Sarah Savidge, Doherty
147 – Aspen Barber, Palmer Ridge
161 – Arabella Quintanilla, Fontaine-Fort Carson