Wrestling is a sport that brings you so close to an opponent that you can literally smell their breath. There isn’t anything like it.
Middle school assistant wrestling coach Edwin Perry describes it like this: “It’s the mat and the other person across from you. It’s like a grudge match. Both coaches are screaming and all the moves you’ve learned are in the back of your head. It’s up to you and only you to execute and the tougher person will win.”
Toughness is a word to describe a successful wrestler. Perry prides himself on his own toughness. He sees that same toughness in Katie Moore, the only girl on the middle school wrestling team.
“Katie knows a lot of moves, you can tell she’s done a lot of wrestling outside of school,” Perry said. “Coming into this season, I could tell she was a little more advanced than the other kids and I feel like she’s a good wrestler.”
In her first match of the season, she pinned her opponent.
“She knows what she’s doing on the mat,” Perry said. “She’s still young where she doesn’t understand positioning but that will come with more experience and I feel like that’s all she needs. She’s tough. She’s just as tough as the guys and she won’t let someone turn her to her back. I don’t even differentiate her from the rest of the team, I just see her as another wrestler.”
Moore feels right at home walking on the wrestling mats even if she’s the only girl. Some shy away from wrestling her but that’s because they may be afraid to lose, Perry says.
“My younger brother has been wrestling since he was four and I would always watch,” Moore said. “I guess I just kind of caught on and started doing it.”
The summer after fourth grade, Moore started wrestling in the kid wrestling league and finding success — and not just a win here or there.
“Last year I was second in the county and fourth in the state,” Moore said.
Each one of her wins was against a boy. Common perspective would make you think that a boy would let a girl win but that’s not the case in the wrestling world. Nobody wants to lose to a girl.
“I feel like they go harder against me than any one else,” Moore said.
Girls have wrestled for Riverhead before but end up dropping the sport either early in high school or before high school even begins. Moore plans on sticking with it for the long haul.
“I don’t buy it,” long time retired Riverhead wrestling coach Walter Stewart said. “I just don’t see a girl wrestling against the boys at a high school level. I’m sorry. Girl on girl, yes. But boy on girl? I just don’t see it. No other high school team on Long Island that I know of has a girl on it. It just doesn’t happen.”
But there isn’t a girls wrestling team at Riverhead, so to play the sport she loves, she’ll just have to wrestle the guys.
Asked what she thinks about those that don’t think she could do it, she says, “It doesn’t matter what people think. I’m still going to do it. Even if I lose, I’m still going to keep going.”
“I do this for me, not anyone else,” Moore said. “I just love the sport.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl
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