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Becahi girls wrestling off to a strong start

Bethlehem Catholic HS declared that it would sponsor a girls wrestling team on Sept. 15, 2022, but had to wait until the following year, when the requisite 100 schools had made the same declaration and PIAA officially sanctioned the sport, to field a team. Softball coach Matt Bennett, whose daughter Addison Greger had wrestled at Nazareth MS and now attended Becahi, stepped up to coach the team.

Thirty-six girls signed up. Although only 15 of these girls ended up choosing to compete in meets, most of the original 36 continued to work out with the team, appreciating the high level of athleticism that training as a wrestler provides. Coach Bennett offered a simple sales pitch: “This is a really great opportunity to get in shape, and it’s empowering and builds your self-esteem.” He told the Press, “I know it’s practically a dogma that girls shouldn’t be tough, but being tough as a girl is awesome.” He noted that several of the girls who came out for the team played either fall soccer or spring softball – his daughter plays both – as well as one track athlete and two girls who had not played any sport before wrestling.

At the District XI meet, Greger came in second in the 142-pound weight class, Remiah Rivera placed fourth at 100 pounds, and Charlotte Sampson came in seventh at 190 pounds. Greger and Rivera went on to the regional competition in Quakertown, where Greger was ultimately pinned by her Pocono Mountain East rival, and Rivera lost by decision to Taya Wuchter from Kennett HS.

Bennett notes that early on, most matches ended in pins, because girls across the district did not have much experience. However, as the season progressed, more matches went the full duration and were decided on points. “That’s a really good match,” he explains, “if it’s a points decision. It shows the girls are getting better.”

The athletes have noticed improvements in how well they do in other sports, because of their wrestling training. “Remiah Rivera said that our leg workouts have helped her shave seconds off her track time,” Bennett remarked. “She saw positive results in indoor track while wrestling.”

Colleges are also building their own nascent girls wrestling programs. Summer Hill, Becahi’s lone senior wrestler, was already planning to play soccer at Lehigh University, but coaches from local colleges have been avidly attending district meets, keeping an eye out for girls to fill future roster spots.

Do female wrestlers feel out of place at a Catholic school? No way, says Bennett. Although Becahi is one of only three Catholic high schools statewide to field a girls wrestling team, Bennett says that the only restriction imposed by the Allentown Diocese is that male and female wrestlers cannot train together. “The school gave us the training time we needed,” he asserts. “We trained on the exact same [equipment] that the boys did, and the boys were state champs this year, so it’s not like we had bad facilities. Mike Cole, the new boys coach, has been super helpful; honestly [the team’s strong start] has been a testament to him.”

Becahi's Remiah Rivera, who is also a track and field athlete, wrestles an opponent from Northampton HS.
Freshman Vivian Dieterich tries to take down her Freedom HS rival.
PRESS PHOTOS COURTESY BECAHI HS GIRLS WRESTLING Addison Greger wears her silver medal on the District XI podium. The other ranked finalists in her weight class are Olivia Capra (Easton HS, first place), Alana Burnette (Pocono Mountain East HS, third) and Glory Joledo (Pocono Mountain West HS, fourth).