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Ortiz, Nichols ranked in final national girls high school rankings of season

New Milford’s Joanne Ortiz, center, was recently honored with the Tricia Saunders Award. Ortiz, who was recognized at the recent Connecticut chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame banquet, stands with Hall of Fame wrestler Gene Mills, left, and Hall of Fame president Lee Roy Smith, right.

Two high school wrestlers from Connecticut are nationally ranked in the final National Girls High School rankings of the 2018-19 school season.

New Milford senior Joanne Ortiz was ranked No. 16 at 106 pounds, slipping from No. 12 in the previous rankings, while Bristol Eastern freshman Ella Nichols was ranked No. 14 at 144 pounds – her first national ranking this season.

USA Wrestling, FloWrestling and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum compile and publish the rankings, which evaluate all girls enrolled in grades 9-12 in all 50 states. Fourteen states currently sponsor official or emerging girls high school championship events. Connecticut is not one of those 14 states.

The rankings are heavily influenced by the results of major national and regional spring competitions.

Ortiz finished third at the National High School Coaches Association’s national tournament at Virginia Beach in March at 103 pounds. She was 4-1 in the tournament with three pins, losing to the eventual national champion in the semifinals.

It was her fourth All-American honor. Ortiz earned All-American honors three times at the USA Wrestling Cadet and Junior National championships in 2017 and 2018 in Fargo, North Dakota.

Ortiz also named Connecticut’s winner of the Tricia Saunders award in May. It’s an award presented annually to a high school senior based on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship or community service. Saunders was a four-time world champion and is the first woman to be inducted in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Nichols earned All-American honors at the NHSCA nationals at 136 pounds by finishing seventh with a 3-2 record in the tournament.

At the USA Wrestling Women’s Freestyle national championships in Texas, Nichols finished second in the UWW (United World Wrestling) Cadet tournament at 65 kg and third in the UWW’s Under 15 competition at 66 kg.

Following the 2017-18 season, Ortiz was ranked No. 8 at 106 in the final girls high school rankings while Plymouth’s Cara Broadus was ranked No. 5 at 144.

The first year the rankings were done for the 2016-17 season and Broadus was ranked No. 5 at 132 pounds in the final rankings for that year.

Final 2018-19 girls high school national rankings

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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