Beginning with a clinic led by former world wrestling champion Jackie Davis, Andover hosted its sixth annual all-female wrestling tournament this past Sunday. In total, 29 schools and 54 wrestlers from throughout New England were in attendance.
Andover Wrestling Coach Kassie Archambault ’06 said, “Girls from private or public schools from the area are welcome to come and compete in our tournament. We had students from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. In the past we had some wrestlers from Connecticut as well who make the drive on a Sunday to compete against other female wrestlers.”
All three of Andover’s female wrestlers who competed this past Sunday were completely new to the sport. Jess Blumenthal ’19, Amour Ellis ’22 and Giselle Jones-Mollod ’22 all placed in the top five for their weight class.
Archambault said, “We had three wrestlers compete in the tournament yesterday. All three of them are brand new wrestlers so this was their first year wrestling, and they have only been wrestling for about two months. One of our wrestlers Jessica Blumenthal placed third in her weight bracket, and Giselle Jones-Mollod and Amour Ellis placed fourth in their weight classes.”
According to Jones-Mollod and Blumenthal, they enjoyed the all-female setting and supportive atmosphere towards new and experienced wrestlers alike.
“I’ve never competed before so I was actually really great. It was a really nice, supportive environment. I am friends with the girls I wrestled now. It was really a nice place to be because usually wrestling is a guy’s sport so being surrounded by 60 other girls who wrestle was just great,” said Blumenthal.
Jones-Mollod added, “We are all new wrestlers so I think there are a lot of things that we can improve on, but we were all really supportive of each other and really supportive of the other wrestlers. We were cheering on other people even if they were on opposing teams.”
Executing moves and skills they practiced throughout the week, the girls showed much improvement throughout the day despite having minimal wrestling experience, according to Ellis and Blumenthal.
Ellis said “I think we were successful at having a good stance, like staying level and always being ready to shoot. Our coach has been telling us during overtime that the person with the best stance wins, so it really shows that we have a good stance and that we can fight off whatever comes to us.”
Blumenthal added, “I think Amour and Giselle have more experience, they’ve wrestled in a couple other matches (this year), and they’ve definitely shown significant improvement, like they’re more confident on their feet.”
The wrestlers are looking to improve on their aggression through more practice and exposure in match-play settings, according to Ellis and Jones-Mollod.
Ellis said “I think we should work on our aggression width wise. Like making sure we shoot first, instead of the other way around, it’s part of a core element of our team.”
Jones-Mollod continued “I think in the future we will definitely work on being more aggressive. We got pinned a lot so working on improving our techniques so next year we can do better.”
Archambault said, “Wrestling, like a lot of sports, the more you wrestle the better you get. So just seeking out more opportunities at practice or at camps or more tournaments, that’s the only way we know you can guarantee to get better, by exposing yourself in more situations in a wrestling match so that way you know how to react when your opponent does something.”
Among the highlights of the day, was the respect shared between opponents, according to Jones-Mollod.
Jones-Mollod said, “I just think the camaraderie between the girls even though we just met each other was so amazing. Seeing everybody cheering each other, like even afterwards you hugged the girl you wrestled which was cool to see.”
The tournament offered the chance for girls to compete exclusively against girls in a sport that is usually male dominated, according to Ellis.
Ellis said, “My favorite part was that I met so many amazing female wrestlers. Everyone was just so nice and so friendly that I felt, I mean at first I felt intimidated because you wrestle guys all the time since it’s a male dominated sport, but I never really get the opportunity to wrestle girls, girls only, so it was really nice in that respect. The clinic was actually wild. Jackie Davis ran a clinic beforehand so we started running, we started doing all these other things that we usually don’t do in practice.”
This tournament allowed the Andover wrestlers to see other wrestlers compete at all different levels, inspiring them to continue with this sport, according to Archambault.
Archambault said, “What I think is amazing is to see 50 plus female wrestlers in a room of all different experience levels. So they got to wrestle with girls who are a lot more experienced than them and then to set goals like I want to get that good next year, in two years. They were exposed to a lot of moves that they haven’t seen before just because they haven’t had as much time with the sport but they worked really hard and were proud of how they did.