TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For decades, high school wrestling has mostly been a boys sport.
This weekend, 60 female wrestlers will be making history when they compete in the first girls state wrestling tournament in New Jersey.
CBS2’s Cindy Hsu caught up with Erin Emery from Teaneck High School, one of the girls competing in the tournament who for years has been mostly wrestling against male athletes.
That is, until this weekend.
Erin hard at work on the mats. (credit: CBS2)
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m hoping to get another win and just make history.”
She’s already no stranger to making history. Just two weeks ago she finished first in her weight class at the state’s first regional wrestling tournament in Red Bank, where hundreds competed. It made her the first girl to ever have her name added to the Teaneck wrestling hall of fame.
“I literally cried,” Erin said. “All these boys came running, they were like ‘your name’s up there’ and I teared up.”
Erin’s been wrestling since she was six-years-old, and has been attending her older brother’s matches for years. Now, her teammates are her brothers, and they have no doubt she’ll win this weekend.
“She’s been wrestling guys since she was six, she’s going to pin through states,” wrestler Elyjah Jackson said.
Elyjah and the rest of Erin’s team say she’s the heart and soul of the squad.
“She’s the most enthusiastic person on the team,” wrestler George Rivera said. “Even if you come off with a loss, she’ll be the first one to say ‘hey it’s OK you’ll get them next time.”
Erin wrestles in one of the highest weight classes — 185 pounds.
“At her weight, who she wrestles on other teams it’s usually like a football player, the biggest guy on the team,” coach Jim Nonas said. “After the match, win or lose, the other coach always comes up to me and goes ‘I can’t believe how strong your girl is’.”
Erin has a bit of advice for young girls who want to follow in her footsteps.
“You got this,” she said. “Just work hard, be disciplined, and go for it.”
The tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.