In preseason rankings determined by the United States Girls Wrestling Association, Julia Salata, a sophomore at Canton High School, has been ranked sixth in the nation in the 124 pound weight class. Julia achieved the ranking as a result of her strong showing in the USGWA national championships in March 2008, where she finished 7th, and her performance at other woman's wrestling events.
Julia, like most woman wrestlers, however, usually competes against boys at the high-school level, as there are still fewer than 100 women that compete in the sport at the high school level in the state of Michigan. The popularity of the sport among women is growing, though - Michigan fielded a strong team that included Julia at the USA Wrestling Fargo Nationals this past July, with one Michigan wrestler, C.C. Webber of Goodrich, winning in the 108 pound weight class. Other Michigan woman wrestlers have joined Julia in the USGWA rankings as well: Kristi Garr, a Goodrich High School Junior is ranked 1st in the 103 weight class; Brenda Brzoznowski, a West Iron County HS sophomore, is ranked 7th at 103; Aaris Gruber, a Milan High School junior, is 7th in the 108 class; C.C. Webber, a senior at Goodrich HS is ranked No.1 in the 112 class; Sherri Berube, an Escanaba High School sophomore, is ranked No. 1 at 116 pounds; Shana DeVoe, an Ortonville Brandon HS senior, is ranked 4th at 116; Taylor Gillis, a Gladstone HS sophomore, is ranked 9th at 116; Tia Kingsley, a Fowlerville High School Sophomore joins Julia in the 124 class with an 11 ranking; three girls represent Michigan in the 128 pound class - Melissa Vernon, a Lake Orion High School junior is 4th; Krystal Dugas, a Swartz Creek High School sophomore, is ranked 7th and BreAnna Miesler, a Clare High School freshman is ranked 9th; Crystal Borrow, a Durand High School Sophomore is ranked at 4th at 133 pounds, with Melissa Baker, a Mt. Clemens High School senior joining her at 12th in that weight class; Jennifer Spitza, a West Iron County HS Sophomore is ranked 10th at 139 pounds; Marian Bosma, a Hesperia High School sophomore
is ranked 7th at 146 pounds; two Swartz Creek HS wrestlers are ranked at 170 pounds - Stephanie Tucker and Kayla Orr - ranked 5th and 9th respectively; and Ashley Hooper, a Warren Lincoln High School Freshman, is ranked 8th at 250 pounds.
All of the young ladies put up with adversity to pursue the sport - Parents that don't want to see their son get beat by a girl (which happens frequently!); Classmates that may question or even criticize their desire to participate in the sport, and often, particularly in the higher weight classes when wrestling against men, the difficulty of overcoming the natural strength advantage that men have over women. These extremely competitive wrestlers need to wrestle men if they want to compete and improve their skills, but in other states, such as California, Texas, Hawaii, and at more colleges every year, competitive women's wrestling programs are taking hold, and providing an opportunity for women to compete in a sport they love.
Here in the Plymouth-Canton area, if you want to see a nationally ranked women's wrestler in action, come see the Canton Chiefs when the season starts up in full swing in December, and cheer Julia on!
To see the complete USGWA rankings, and to learn more about women's wrestling, go here.