Excitement building for 1st Plum girls wrestling season

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Sunday, September 25, 2022 | 11:01 AM


No workouts are yet official, but a number of girls at Plum are meeting in the high school wrestling room twice a week for sessions as excitement continues to build for the first Mustangs girls wrestling season in November.

The informal workouts began two weeks ago, and last Monday, eight wrestlers with varying abilities and experience were there to receive instruction from the program’s inaugural coach Dave Miller.

“It is awesome and super exciting to have everyone here,” said freshman Saphia Davis, one of three Plum female wrestlers, including fellow freshmen Maddie Killmeyer and Alaina Claassen, who competed consistently at the junior high level last year.

“I love helping everyone learn and develop their skills. I know what it felt like to get started in wrestling, and I hope some of the new girls are excited to get started. It is so cool that (this team) is real. It is so awesome.”

The Plum School Board in June voted to get the ball rolling on a girls wrestling program, joining schools such as Kiski Area, Canon-McMillan and North Allegheny.

The Mustangs are one of eight WPIAL schools to establish an official girls team. North Allegheny was the first in June 2020, followed by Canon-McMillan in October of last year.

The two schools met last December for the first-ever girls wrestling dual match in the WPIAL.

Connellsville (Nov. 2021), Kiski Area (Dec. 2021) and Southmoreland (Jan. 2022) came on board soon after.

Plum was the sixth WPIAL school to sponsor girls wrestling, and Fort Cherry followed in July.

The Rangers also were the 50th school in Pennsylvania to do so, marking the halfway point to 100 needed for the PIAA to sanction girls wrestling as an official varsity sport with a state championship.

This month, Seneca Valley joined four other schools from around the state in sponsorship.

“Last year, I was more focused on wrestling with either Alaina or Saphia because I wasn’t super comfortable wrestling the boys, especially at the beginning of the season,” said Killmeyer, who, along with Davis, began wrestling competitively last year.

“It definitely helps having the girls team, especially to help get newer girls to wrestling more comfortable. I just hope we can get more to come out for the team and we can have a successful first season. There is just a lot of pride right now to have this team.”

Miller, a math teacher at Plum High School, officially was hired last month to head the new girls wrestling team at Plum. But the 1987 Penn Hills graduate, who fashioned a successful competition career with the Indians and later at Clemson, had designs on beginning the program several years ago.

“Right before covid,” said Miller, who is coaching at Plum for the first time but served as the head coach of the varsity team at Penn Hills for a decade starting in 1996.

“A good friend of mine who coaches in New Jersey and who I wrestled with at Clemson started a girls program around that time. So, they have been doing it for a while. I had asked around then to see if there was interest. Nothing came to fruition from it. But as soon as they said they wanted to start girls wrestling, I wanted the job.

“After the first workout session, the girls asked if we could have more than one a week. We’re going to do a couple days a week. The girls who wrestled in junior high are really excited, and there is enthusiasm from the other girls to learn. We have a nice number now, and we hope to have around 14 to start the season. For a first-year program, that would be phenomenal. The girls are always talking to their friends, whether they’ve been athletes in the past or not, to give wrestling a try.”

The season schedule, with opportunities ranging from dual meets to full-scale tournaments, has yet to be finalized.

A girls individual tournament has become a fixture at the Powerade tournament between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

North Allegheny is set to host a tournament in early January. Southmoreland is slated to do the same in early February.

A Western Pa. girls championship is scheduled for Feb. 19 at North Allegheny, and a western regional tournament will be March 5.

The PA girls state tournament is March 12.

The championship tournaments will not be affiliated with the WPIAL or PIAA.

“We hope to get the girls as many competitions as we can,” Miller said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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