Out of 896 high school wrestlers at the 2010 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships, Savanna Nobile sticks out.
She wrestles for Richmond High School and is one of only two girls at this year’s tournament. Her coach, Ken Simmons, whose daughter wrestled for Richmond, said having a female wrestler isn’t abnormal to him. Nobile is the sixth female wrestler in Richmond's history.
Nobile said she started wrestling as a freshman last year because she wanted a challenge. She wrestles in the 103-pound weight class though she typically weighs in at 99 pounds.
“She isn’t as strong as some of the guys she has wrestled,” Simmons said.
The slight-framed wrestler makes up for her lack of strength by rigorously running, lifting weights, training on hills, swimming and climbing stairs. Any losses cannot be attributed to a lack of effort.
In addition to wrestling, Nobile also competes in basketball, volleyball, cross-country and track. Unlike team sports she plays, she says wrestling is different because you can’t blame a loss on anyone else.
“There is no outs here, it is just you,” Simmons said.
Nobile also acknowledged the person-to-person struggle in wrestling means she has even more reason to be proud of a win.
“Wrestling built my confidence,” said Nobile, “To know you can compete against a guy.”
Accepting her for the tomboy she claims to be, Nobile said her parents didn’t care that she joined the wrestling team. “My dad likes it,” she said.
The oldest of three kids, Nobile didn’t learn to wrestle from an older brother, instead she helps her younger brother learn how to wrestle. “Me and him wrestle a lot,” she said.
Unlike the underdog female competitor in movies, Nobile’s teammates treat her like part of the team. She trains and wrestles with the team but also runs after practice.
Her tournament ended at the hands of Troy Kyser of Knob Noster, but she believes the taste of success at this weekend’s 2010 MSHSAA Wrestling Championships and another year of experience will drive her to more wins.
“Takes a special person to wrestle doesn’t matter if it’s a guy or a girl,” said Simmons.