El Molino junior wrestler Hannah Ricioli made her mark on the big stage this week, capturing the women’s 16-under Cadet freestyle championship against the country’s best at the USMC National Championship meet in Fargo, North Dakota.
Competing for Team California in the 152-pound weight class, Ricioli received a first round bye and pinned her second round opponent to advance to the quarterfinals. There, she won a 6-1 decision over a California teammate and defeated another teammate in the semifinals by a technical fall. In the finals, she squared off against highly regarded Dakota Marie Dinielli from Connecticut.
Trailing 5-0 after the first period, Ricioli whittled away at the deficit, eventually outlasting her opponent to win the national championship in an 8-7 decision. The individual title is just the second ever won by a Sonoma County wrestler, joining Vickie Espinosa of Rancho Cotate.
“Hannah has been working on her mental toughness and it has really showed,” El Molino coach Ron Wright said. “When you have someone who is so dedicated you want to help her any way you can and just be a part of it.”
In just her second year in the sport, Ricioli has already established herself as the most accomplished wrestler in school history following a star-studded winter campaign, a season that included being voted the Most Valuable Girls Wrestler in the North Bay League, Redwood Division. She led the Lions to a first ever girls title, compiling an overall win-loss record of 38-10 record while capturing an individual NBL championship. Ricioli went on to finish third in the North Coast Section and sixth at the prestigious California Interscholastic Federation State Wrestling Championships in Bakersfield in February.
“After her freshman season Hannah went down to compete in a high level meet in San Diego and got pinned in both of her matches,” Wright recalled. “That lit a fire in her and she decided then to dedicate herself completely to the sport.”