By Kendra Evensen, firstname.lastname@example.org
A Blackfoot High School wrestler not only took the title for the 101-pound weight class during the Jaybird Memorial Wrestling Tournament in Nampa over the weekend, but she helped to make history.
Lana Hunt participated in the first girls wrestling tournament to be sanctioned by the Idaho High School Activities Association.
â€śIt was amazing. For years Iâ€™ve never really competed against girls,â€ť Hunt said, but added that more females are starting to get involved in the sport. â€śItâ€™s just good to know that itâ€™s growing.â€ť
Todd Cady, the wrestling coach who created the event held at Columbia High School on Saturday, told the Idaho Statesmen that more than 100 girls are certified to wrestle in the state right now compared to roughly 30 or 40 a year ago.
More than 40 girls participated in Saturdayâ€™s tournament.
Hunt, who is currently the only female wrestler at Blackfoot High School, was able to compete against three other girls in her weight class during the event.
â€śIt was nice to be able to compete against other girls. (When I) compete against guys Iâ€™m (often) outmuscled so I canâ€™t do the moves I want to work on,â€ť she said, adding that competing in the tournament gave her an opportunity to strengthen some of those moves.
And she did well enough to win in her weight class.
â€śIt felt pretty cool,â€ť she said.
As part of the event, Hunt also had a chance to participate in a wrestling clinic featuring Katherine Shai (Fulp-Allen), who ranked third in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in both 2012 and 2016, according to www.teamusa.org.
â€śIt was cool that I got to learn some moves from her,â€ť Hunt said.
Hunt, who has been wrestling for five years, said she fell in love with the sport while watching her older brother, Lane Hunt, compete.
â€śI wanted to be like my big brother,â€ť she said.
But she also enjoys competing in the sport, which she says pushes her to work hard to to improve and overcome the mental challenges of wrestling. She says the sport has also helped her to build more confidence.
The high school senior, who wants to pursue college wrestling, says Saturdayâ€™s tournament was a great opportunity for girls and she hopes the event will continue in the future.
â€śIt makes me feel really hopeful that the sport is growing and being more accepted,â€ť she said, adding that girls are starting to become more confident when it comes to participating in a sport they enjoy.
Cady started the Jaybird Memorial Wrestling Tournament this year to honor Nampa resident Jay Lanningham, a wrestling enthusiast and supporter, who died in a crash near McCammon in June. He had taken his granddaughter to Eastern Idaho so she could compete in a wrestling tournament, according to USA Idaho Wrestlingâ€™s Facebook page.
The Idaho Statesman reports that Lanninghamâ€™s granddaughter, Payton Lanningham, was one of the girls who competed in Saturdayâ€™s event.