New Jersey sanctioned girls high school wrestling as an official sport three years ago, and Kingsway has been at the forefront of this movement since the beginning. Led by founding Head Coach Farid Syed, they fielded one of the largest, most complete squads in New Jersey and have been an enormous source of pride for the school and for the community.
This season, the program had many shining moments.
First, with the pandemic having a huge negative impact on sports, not being shut down and being able to complete their entire season safely was a major success. Their new wrestlers showed great improvement.
They had four place winners from the state tournament, including a third place finisher (Alexa Firestone) and two sixth place finishers (Sophia Hibbs and Peyton Rieger).
To top it off, they had an athlete, Kat Bott, who earned a tremendous first for the program, becoming the first state champion in girls wrestling with her pin of favored Abigail Stanberry of Jackson Memorial High School. For a school that prides itself on its storied wrestling tradition, this was no small feat.
“I am so proud that these kids are stepping out of their comfort zone to try something different and work hard to learn and improve in it,” said Syed. “Our number one rule for the girls always is to have fun.”
“Because girls are so new to wrestling, they just need to try it,” continued Syed. “We have had so many girls that have changed their lives from wrestling, and it is because of all the hard work they have put in.”
Of course, there were some obstacles that the team had to overcome.
“We only had one month to prepare, and the girls with no experience showed great growth but would have improved even more with a full season,” said Syed. “That being said, we are still grateful that we got the opportunity to compete.”
As they continue to look into a future that hopefully is impacted less and less by the pandemic, the girls wrestling program has a few objectives.
“We want to try to get youth experiences for the girls,” said Syed. “This would be a major step in helping us get better for the future. We will get stronger with summer weightlifting, and we will be more technically sound with summer practices that will be available for the girls. We are excited about our potential!”
Judging by the number of girls coming out for the team each year, so are many others.
By Christian Lynch