BLOOMFIELD, NJ-- Female wrestling in New Jersey high schools has really taken off, since it became an official NJSIAA athletic event last year. The season was climaxed by the girls competing at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, on the same weekend as the boys for the state championships.

A year later, the numbers continue to impress. After a few years away, the Bloomfield High holiday wrestling tournament returned last December, as the girls took center stage, with 60 wrestlers competing. For nearly five decades, the tourney was a staple at Bloomfield High, for the males, before disbanding a few years back. 

And now, the tournament will be held again this year, at Bloomfield High, and the girls numbers have nearly tripled.

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"I can't believe how many kids will be coming this year," said an elated Bloomfield High wrestling coach Ryan Smircich. "Last year, when we brought back the Bloomfield tournament, we were elated with 60 kids. This year, 160 have already signed up, and there could be more. It's incredible."

The tournament will be held on Dec. 26, at Bloomfield High. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. The tournament is being run by the Bloomfield Bengal Booster Wrestling Club, which supports wrestlers in town from grades 1-12. 

"We'll have kids coming from High Point, North Hunterdon, Hunterdon Central, Phillipsburg, Vernon, Newton, Kittatinny and Notre Dame High, as well as West Orange, Belleville, Nutley and our kids from Bloomfield," said Smircich. "I'll tell you one thing, (BHS assistant coach) Jason Galioto will have a busy day, with all the bout sheets and the scoring. He's a wizard with that stuff."

Smircich noted the complete cooperation from the Bloomfield High administration.

"Our principal (Chris Jennings) and athletic director (Steve Jenkins) have been so supportive, as well as the entire Bloomfield administration," said Smircich. "We're looking forward to a great day of wrestling for the girls."

The officials assigned to the tournament are among the best high school officials in the state, once again.

"Last year, we had a great crew and those same guys will be back this year," said Smircich. "And we'll have some defending state champion wrestlers competing at the tournament, too. It's great to see girls wrestling really gaining momentum."

Bloomfield will have eight wrestlers competing, as Claire Emma Daity, Nataly Diaz, Angelina Faura, Gianna Faura, Aniya Jimerez, Noura Kakadendi, Jordyn Parker and Kira Pipkins are expected to wrestle for the Bengals.