A South Carolina sophomore recently became the first female wrestler in the state to win an individual wrestling state championship.
Woodruff High School’s June Welch made history on Saturday after defeating Chester High School’s Eduardo De Paz in the Class 3A 106-pound championship at the Anderson Civic Center, according to The State.
Throughout the match, the 16-year-old wrestler dominated De Paz and secured the win by pinning him with seven seconds left on the clock. The crowd gave the young wrestler a standing ovation as soon as the official slapped the mat.
In a post-match interview, Welch said, “After the semifinals, I was just ready. I made history by making the finals and I just wanted to win.”
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Welch, who lost to De Paz in the Class 3A Upper State championship the week before, won her weight class at the girls’ state wrestling championships in early February.
Kathleen Welch, the athlete’s mother, highlighted the significance of her daughter’s historic win.
“June broke a barrier,” she told WSPA 7NEWS. “She enabled other girls to realize that they might be able to do that.”
Woodruff coach John Harper said Welch was able to succeed no matter who her opponent was. In South Carolina, girls wrestling on the high school level has yet to be sanctioned, which is why Welch needed to compete with De Paz, a male wrestler, during the championship match.
“It’s not anything that’s uncommon or daunting for her because she’s been doing it for so long,” Harper was quoted as saying. “She approaches each match as another opportunity to compete. It doesn’t matter if it’s a male or a female. She just enjoys wrestling.”
The spirited athlete, who started wrestling when she was in the fifth grade, has now set her sights on the national championships which will be held later this year.