Trio of female wrestlers make history at North Allegheny

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Saturday, February 13, 2021 | 9:01 AM


High school students certainly spend a lot of time learning about history. Not many of those students get to make history.

Three North Allegheny wrestlers made quite a bit of history with their performance in a recent dual meet.

Taylor Stover, Leyna Rumpler and Hannah Williams teamed up to defeat Central Mountain in the first contested match between sanctioned girls wrestling teams in Pennsylvania on Feb. 6.

“When we explained the significance to them, their eyes lit up and smiles across the board,” North Allegheny coach Dan Heckert said. “They are starting to recognize that winning and losing isn’t what matters.

“These girls are trendsetters. They are doing something that’s never been done in the history of Pennsylvania.”

For the first time, North Allegheny has a girls wrestling team, and the three members are gaining experience at tournaments around the state.

In the 12-11 victory over Central Mountain, Rumpler and and Williams earned pins. Stover wrestled two matches, losing by tech fall and pin.

The girls also competed at the Mid-Winter Mayhem tournament and the Gettysburg Invitational. North Allegheny also was scheduled to host a girls individual tournament last Saturday and will travel to Lancaster for a state championship tournament March 21.

“It’s gone really well,” Heckert said. “All three are first-year wrestlers. We’re taking things slow, a little different than what we do with the guys because they are all brand-new wrestlers.”

Heckert said the focus during daily practices is on fundamentals and building on the wrestlers’ best moves on bottom, top and in neutral.

Heckert cited the help of assistant coach Amanda Walker, a former U.S. women’s national team member, as crucial to the wrestlers’ development.

After spending weeks practicing, the trio got to test themselves at the Mid-Winter Mayhem tournament Jan. 17 in Monroeville. Though they didn’t win a match, the trip was beneficial.

“It was real good for them,” Heckert said. “They got to learn what a match is and how it progressed. Just a great learning experience.”

Next came the Gettysburg event Jan. 30. Stover earned a 7-6 decision and an 11-9 overtime victory at 115 pounds.

Williams secured four pins at 85 pounds, and Rumpler had a pin and major decision at 145.

“Every girl won at least two matches,” Heckert said. “You could see the excitement in their eyes after each one won their first match. It was neat to see it click.”

Those accomplishments continued to build on the bigger picture for Heckert and the North Allegheny program as girls wrestling grows throughout the WPIAL and state. There are nine girls programs in Pennsylvania with school-sponsored teams, but that number is expected to grow in coming years.

Last summer, North Allegheny was the fourth school in the state to sanction the sport, following Easton, J.P. McCaskey and Executive Education Academy.

“These girls really get the significance of what they’re doing,” Heckert said, “and they are paving the way for what will eventually be an approved PIAA sport.”

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.

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