In sports, there is generally strength in numbers so three Coral Springs High School girls wrestlers are able to lean on each other when the times get tough.
They also said that the boys' wrestlers have provided a strong support group in their training and when they compete.
All three girls, Landsey Victorin, Ellen Yamasaki, and Jada Berry, recently competed in the St. Thomas Aquinas Junior Varsity Invitational at the Fort Lauderdale school and they all gained valuable experience against boys on the mat. They were the only girls among the 64 competitors from the 10 schools.
The trio has plans to compete at the upcoming girls wrestling state championships on Feb. 14-15 at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando.
Victorin, 17, a junior, has been wrestling for the school for the past three years. She wrestles in the 147-pound weight division.
“I like the fact that it challenges me,” Victorin said. “I like the fact that it is different from other sports that you will hear about. Wrestling is a sport that people know about like basketball and football, you just don’t see a lot of girls doing it. Wrestling gives me a chance to challenge myself and the fact that I go against boys and girls helps me gain strength in the sport.”
“My goal now is to place at states,” said Victorin, who also placed second in the Bill White Memorial Girls Wrestling tournament on Saturday. There were nearly 100 girls in that competition. “Last year was my best at states because I didn’t lose any matches on the first day.”
It was her second trip to the state tournament.
“In my freshmen year I didn’t win, so I have more experience now and should do better,” she said. “I have been working on my weaknesses.”
Yamasaki is a two-time 6th place finisher at the state tournament and this is the senior’s third year wrestling.
“It is a lot of fun,” said 18-year-old Yamasaki. “It maintains my weight, so it keeps me healthy too.”
With the state tournament just a few weeks away, Yamasaki said the JV tournament helps give her motivation. She is also recovering from a minor car accident where she injured her shoulder, which kept her out of the Bill White Memorial.
“It makes me more disciplined and gives me more technique,” Yamasaki said. “It also helps me organize what steps I am going to use at states.”
“Boys are obviously stronger,” Yamasaki added, “so I have to put everything fully in when I am wrestling them. My mindset, when I wrestle boys, is attack. I just keep going forward and try to apply more pressure.”
Berry, 14, a freshman, competed in the 113-pound weight class at both the JV meet and the Bill White Invitational, placing fourth in both.
“I always watched my brother wrestle and thought it was something I would want to do,” said Berry, whose brother Jason wrestled for the Colts from 2015-2018 and is now at Wabash College. “The opportunity was there so I took it.”
When Berry is on the mat, her main focus is not to get pinned.
“Technique is really important, especially when you are wrestling a guy,” Berry said. “They are stronger than you, so they are going to be resisting you a lot. I am pretty flexible, so that helps because it is harder to pin me. This is a learning experience, so I know what to do and what not to do. It also shows me how much stronger I need to get.”
“It is really good to have girls on the team because you can go up to them and ask them things,” Berry said. “It is also cool when you are wrestling the boys because the girls will cheer for you.”
Coral Springs High School wrestling coach Dan Jacob has had a number of girls on his teams throughout his 32-year career at the school. He said they aren’t treated any differently. His girls finished 12th at the state championship as a team last season.
“Our guys treat them like any other wrestler because they work very hard,” Jacob said. “In fact, they outwork the boys and set a great example. We get girls all of the time.”