Forestville was the epicenter for the historic, inaugural Lady Lions Wrestling Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 23, as the El Molino High School gymnasium filled with some 16 teams and nearly 200 female wrestlers.
The event showcased the skill and tenacity of the participants, highlighting the fastest growing high school sport in the nation.
“The tournament was a little smaller than I was hoping, but the fires and power shutoffs set things back, plus this was the first weekend of tournaments and not everyone was ready to go,” El Mo coach and event director Ron Wright said. “Throughout the day, there was great varsity and JV wrestling. Many attendees and some of the volunteers had never been to a girls tournament and commented on how great it was and how impressed they were with the wrestlers.”
The Lions sent two girls to the wrestling mat, including nationally ranked junior Hannah Ricioli and emerging freshman Hayden Fields.
Ricioli breezed into the 160-pound finals before losing to state-ranked opponent Francesca Lo Presti of Albany to settle for second place.
“The finals match showcased two CIF state placers who are teammates on the national freestyle and folkstyle teams,” Wright said. “It was the match of the day, and only the first of several times the two should see each other this season.”
Fields was also impressive in her first high school tournament in the 131-pound weight class, advancing with four pins before coming up short in the finals to take home a second place trophy.
“Hayden wrestled in a round-robin bracket with six girls, so we knew she was going to get a lot of mat time with five matches,” Wright noted. “Hayden had a good week at practice and has been working hard all season.”
Windsor took home the first place team trophy, while second and third place team trophies went to Albany and Ukiah.
The Lions will be back on the mat on Nov. 30, when they compete in both a JV boys and girls tournament at Rancho Cotate and the varsity Redwood Rumble in Larkspur. In addition, Ricioli will compete at the Menlo-Atherton Bear Bash.