Sherer climbs to na­tional promi­nence

The Times-Tribune - - SPORTS - BY JOE BARESS STAFF WRITER

Delaware Val­ley sopho­more proves pioneer in grow­ing girls par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Delaware Val­ley’s Lily Sherer did some trav­el­ing over the past few months, but it was no sum­mer va­ca­tion.

In July, the sopho­more cap­tured sec­ond at 132 pounds at the United States Marine Corps/united States Wrestling Women’s Freestyle na­tional cham­pi­onships in Fargo, North Dakota.

A few weeks later, she added an­other run­ner-up fin­ish at Sum­mer Na­tion­als in At­lantic City, New Jersey, earn­ing All-amer­i­can hon­ors at 138 pounds.

“The (first) tour­na­ment was re­ally big,” Sherer said. “There were a lot of girls. It wasn’t re­ally over­whelm­ing. I went into it not hav­ing any ex­pec­ta­tions at all. My goal was just to place, let alone make it to the fi­nals. It was crazy.”

Ranked 18th in the na­tion for her class, ac­cord­ing to theopen­mat.com, Sherer is here to stay.

So, too, is girls wrestling. At the tour­na­ment in Fargo, 21 girls rep­re­sented Penn­syl­va­nia and seven earned All-amer­i­can hon­ors, the most for the state at that event.

In March, Sherer won the 139-pound state ti­tle at the in­au­gu­ral Mid­dle At­lantic Girls Folk­style Cham­pi­onships at Get­tys­burg High School. The tour­na­ment ex­panded from the Penn­syl­va­nia Girls Cham­pi­onship to other states, in­clud­ing Vir­ginia, Mary­land, New York, Con­necti­cut, Ohio and New Jersey. The change bumped the num­ber of wrestlers from 120 to 220.

“I be­lieve the more girls we have, the more suc­cess­ful it will be,” Sherer said. “I def­i­nitely think this is a sit­u­a­tion where it’s quan­tity over qual­ity, even though qual­ity is im­por­tant. You need to start some­where and the num­bers are where it starts. And to be a part of those num­bers is re­ally a great thing and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”

Also in March, Penn­syl­va­nia Ju­nior Wrestling held its girls-only state cham­pi­onships at Mo­he­gan Sun Arena for ages 12 and un­der for the first time.

“There was a nice rep­re­sen­ta­tion there, and it will grow even more,” Penn­syl­va­nia USA Wrestling women’s di­rec­tor Tom Tomeo said. “There’s a lot of girls in the youth (ranks) right now. Some in ju­nior high, some in high school, a lot of girls in the youth that are start­ing to take hold.”

Among the girls to com­pete were Val­ley View’s Ri­ley Kar­wowski (55 pounds, ages 8 and un­der), Delaware Val­ley’s Rhayna Simp­son (75 pounds, ages 11-12) and Montrose’s Larissa Tay­lor (120 pounds, ages 11-12).

Tay­lor, who fin­ished fifth in the state at the PJW tour­na­ment, wres­tles for Montrose’s ju­nior high team. En­ter­ing eighth grade, the 13-yearold plans to wres­tle in high school and col­lege and is happy to see Sherer’s suc­cess.

“It makes me ex­cited,” Tay­lor said. “I know that girls can do it as well as guys.”

Western Wayne’s Lexi De­si­ato, 12, also wres­tles at the ju­nior high level. En­ter­ing sev­enth grade, she’s thrilled with the sport’s growth and Sherer’s suc­cess.

“It make me feel con­fi­dent that girls can do that, and it’s not just me who’s do­ing it,” De­si­ato said. “There’s a bunch of other peo­ple.”

De­spite the growth, the PIAA hasn’t added a girls di­vi­sion. In or­der to con­sider in­ter­dis­trict and state cham­pi­onships, a sport needs at least 100 mem­ber schools spon­sor­ing a team.

“That’s how you’ve seen the growth of lacrosse these past few years,” PIAA chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Mark By­ers said. “When there is es­tab­lished school spon­sor­ship, the board has been more than will­ing to take over those cham­pi­onships. You’ve seen the ex­pan­sion of both boys and girls lacrosse. Com­pet­i­tive spirit is an­other sport that’s been added over the past cou­ple of years. It just takes a groundswell of sup­port from the mem­ber­ship in or­der to al­low those op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­ist.”

Girls have the op­tion to wres­tle with boys for their school teams, but Sherer said she be­lieves more girls will par­tic­i­pate if the PIAA sanc­tioned a girls di­vi­sion.

“If you of­fer a girls wrestling pro­gram, it would be more con­sid­ered be­cause a lot of girls don’t want to wres­tle the guys,” Sherer said. “To me, I don’t re­ally care, but a lot of peo­ple are like that. And, if you of­fer girls wrestling, then a lot more peo­ple would take the op­por­tu­nity. Just look. You have tour­na­ments like Fargo where you have all these girls, but then you have the spe­cific state tour­na­ments that are so nar­rowed down be­cause (the PIAA) isn’t sanc­tion­ing the sport.”

De­si­ato also has no preference of wrestling against boys or girls as long as she has an op­po­nent, but she also re­al­izes the op­por­tu­nity ex­clu­sive girls wrestling can bring to the sport.

“If you’re un­com­fort­able wrestling against boys, you wouldn’t have to be un­com­fort­able with that,” De­si­ato said. “And some boys don’t want to wres­tle (girls).”

Tay­lor also faces off against boys in foot­ball, and likes hav­ing the op­tion to wres­tle against ei­ther gen­der.

“It mostly doesn’t mat­ter, but I mostly wres­tle guys,” Tay­lor said. “I kind of like it mixed.”

With the help of Sherer, Delaware Val­ley wrestling coach Lou De­lauro looks to gar­ner more girls in­ter­est and hopes to even­tu­ally start a girls pro­gram at the school.

“I do think this fall we’ll try to get a fe­male clinic go­ing in our room some­time in Septem­ber, Oc­to­ber,” De­lauro said. “(Lily’s) ba­si­cally with me. She’s go­ing to be the per­son who will hope­fully try to gather up as many girls that are in­ter­ested and again we’re go­ing to try to build those num­bers.”

Tomeo said with girls wrestling for the right rea­sons, the sport’s growth is in­evitable.

“We want girls to do it for per­sonal em­pow­er­ment, for per­sonal fit­ness, but also to be a part of the team, ”to meo said. “the more pos­i­tive rea­sons. They love the sport, they love what it builds, what it in­stills in them and em­pow­ers them and em­pow­ers women’s teams.”

COUR­TESY OF CHRIS ATKIN­SON

Delaware Val­ley’s Lily Sherer, rep­re­sent­ing Penn­syl­va­nia, pins Nal­lely Ri­vadeneira, from Cal­i­for­nia, dur­ing the semi­fi­nals of the na­tional cham­pi­onships in Fargo, N.D.

COUR­TESY of MAD­DIE KONOPKA

Delaware Val­ley sopho­more Lily Sherer, rep­re­sent­ing Penn­syl­va­nia, has her arm raised af­ter de­feat­ing Na­nen Aguilar, from Colorado, in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the na­tional cham­pi­onships in Fargo, N.D.

COUR­TESY of CHRIS ATKIN­SON

Delaware Val­ley’s Lily Sherer holds her run­ner-up plaque at the na­tional cham­pi­onships in Fargo, N.D.

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