VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., March 31 – The National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) has been hosting a national championship tournament since 1991. For many years, it was just for seniors – one last opportunity to see how they stack up nationally.
In 2005-07, the NHSCA added Junior National, Sophomore National and Freshman National tournaments, respectively.
This year, the NHSCA added a new girls division with competition for girls in grades 9-12. Three girls from Connecticut earned All-American status by finishing in the top eight of their respective weight classes.
New Milford’s Joanne Ortiz, who was ranked No. 5 in the latest national rankings by USA Wrestling, FloWrestling and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, finished third at 103 pounds. Southington sophomore Ashley Reed also finished third at 144 pounds while Bristol Eastern freshman Ella Nichols earned All-American honors by taking seventh at 136 pounds.
Ortiz went 4-1 in the tournament and won her first two matches by pin. She dropped an 11-1 decision to eventual national champion Justin Barredo of California in the semifinals. Ortiz rebounded with pins over Brianna Ta of Virginia in 1:32 to earn a spot in the consolation final against Tatyana Ortiz of Pennsylvania.
Joanne Ortiz had a 4-1 lead late in the first period thanks to a takedown and a two-point near fall. But her opponent got hurt with 50 seconds remaining in the first period and had to forfeit the match, giving Joanne Ortiz the bronze medal.
It was her fourth All-American honor. Joanne Ortiz earned All-American honors at the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National championships three times in 2017 and 2018.
Reed had to work hard to earn All-American honors winning four straight matches in the consolation round after dropping her first match of the tournament to Kaelyn Martinez of Florida, 8-2.
Reed beat Tennessee’s Linnea Dabrescia, 6-0 and outlasted California’s Lauren Camp, 4-2 in overtime to earn All-American honors. Tied 2-2 after three periods, Reed got a takedown nine seconds into OT to earn the win.
Reed continued by pinning Autumn Terhune of Indiana in 3:04 and finishing third with a 10-3 win over Seda Tsarni of Maryland.
Nichols went 3-2 in the tournament to finish seventh. She beat Florida’s Madisyn Blackburn with a pin in 48 seconds before dropping a 3-1 decision in overtime to Mika Walker of New York in the quarterfinals. Nichols rebounded with two wins in her next three consolation round bouts. She beat New York’s Jade Eldridge, 7-1 and Alabama’s Jorie Richardson, 11-2.
Manchester’s Destiny Mateo (120) went 2-2 in the tournament with a pin while Columbia’s Hayden Richardson (144) also wrestled but couldn’t find a win.
Girls have had the opportunity to earn All-American honors in wrestling at the USA Wrestling national championships in Fargo, North Dakota each summer or at U.S. Girls Wrestling Association championship meets in previous years.