The Mattituck/Greenport/Southold high school wrestling program has had female wrestlers before, just not one quite like Ansley Hanus.
What Hanus, a freshman, did Sunday was become the first female Mattituck wrestler to win a title at the varsity level, according to coach Cory Dolson.
With about a dozen Mattituck coaches and wrestlers cheering her on, Hanus won the 113-pound title at the Rocky Point Invitational, which was unofficially referred to as the Suffolk County girls wrestling championships.
A single-leg takedown to a crossface cradle helped Hanus to a 5-0 lead in the final. She was ahead, 5-2, when she pinned Sachem East junior Savannah Eberhardt in 2 minutes, 50 seconds. They were the only two girls in the weight class.
“It’s a great experience,” said Hanus, who never wrestled Eberhardt before. “The energy was unreal, with the team there to support and everybody watching and just the whole atmosphere was crazy.”
She added, “It meant a lot to win, just going out there to prove something.”
Dolson said: “She was definitely pretty happy for herself. It’s definitely a pretty cool experience … It’s kind of something special.”
Hanus is 3-1 against girls this season. (The only girl who beat her was Rocky Point’s Gianna Amendola, the Rocky Point Invitational’s 120-pound champion.) Hanus completed her first varsity season with an overall record of 3-12.
Hanus said she was surprised by the presence of some of her male teammates in the stands. “The boys being there made it a little more stressful but gave me more energy on the mat,” she said. “They were barking, they were yelling. They were making as much noise as they could.”
Hanus, 14, was introduced to wrestling as a fourth-grader after watching her younger brother Kyle practice in the Mattituck kid wrestling program. “I went to his practices, thought it was interesting and wanted to try it out, picked it up and loved it,” she said.
Hanus, who also competes for the Alpha Girls Wrestling Club, went on to wrestle two seasons in junior high school before making the big jump to the varsity team. Despite some initial trepidation, she was gratified to find that the boys on the team “treated me like another one of the guys, which is what I wanted.” She said her time with the Tuckers has been “amazing.”
Hanus was a junior high school state champion at 110 pounds last season. She has also won some tournaments with Alpha.
“She’s very aggressive, that’s number one,” said Dolson, detailing Hanus’ wrestling attributes. “She’s aggressive. She’s tenacious. She’s smart out there. I think her best position is on her feet.”
Currently, there are no sectional and state tournaments for girls wrestling, but the momentum seems to be moving in that direction for the future.
Girls wrestling against boys is nothing new. For years it wasn’t all that unusual to see it at the junior high level. But things are changing.
“There’s always been girls on teams and stuff,” Dolson said. “It’s just now they’re stepping it up and taking it to the next level. The popularity of the sport is really blowing up.”
Bay Shore, for example, was recognized by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as the first school in the state to have a girls wrestling team, according to Newsday. News spread this week about Lynbrook’s Ally Fitzgerald recently becoming the first Long Island girl to qualify for a boys sectional tournament.
“I love the sport of wrestling like none other,” Hanus said. “It’s really just given me a great experience, athletically and socially. It’s it’s own kind of sport. It’s not like any other. There’s no ball involved. It’s you and another person, and it’s testing your strength.”
Although Hanus’ season officially ended with her victory Sunday, she was back at practice Monday, “ready to rock and roll,” said Dolson.
Hanus said of her teammates: “I wasn’t going to leave them hanging, and I want to spend as much time with them as I can. I’m going to miss them in the offseason.”