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The Yankee Express

Northbridge Girls Starting To Succeed on the Mat

Allie Reese,

By Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer

Three years ago, the Northbridge wrestling program added girls to the team and although not a lot of girls have taken to the mat, the Rams are starting to have success with some of the girls that have decided to give the sport a try. Juniors Allie Reese and Annah Manning have given the Northbridge wrestling program a shot in the arm for females. 

“This is our third year having a girls program as part of the high school team at Northbridge and have had four girls spanning the three years,” coach Baird Lashley said. “We are always looking for ways to invite more girls to try the sport and hope in the future that we offer ‘girls only’ practices.”

While it was Reese that had the better regular season going 16-3 in her weight class, it was Manning (8-5 during the regular season) that surprised everyone in the post-season. Reese was seeded high in her weight class (113 lbs.) but found that it was a rather large group of girls that she had to take on in the States. The weight class included 18 athletes and unfortunately the Northbridge wrestler got knocked out in her fifth match and eventually finished fifth, just missing out on advancing to the All-States.

Annah Manning


“Allie had a tough tournament, losing to a wrestler she had previously pinned and ultimately took fifth place, just outside the top four that get medals and make it to the All-State Tournament,” Lashley said. “She was obviously disappointed, but still had a great season, winning the Invitational Tournament and then leading the way for both our girls and boys as well. She is already making plans to get stronger and come back even better for her senior season.”

Northbridge was looking to Reese to become the first female wrestler to reach the All-State for the school. Although she was unable to accomplish the achievement for the Rams wrestling program, Manning picked up the slack and rode a very successful tournament to advance into the next tournament.

“The big surprise was Annah. She fought her way into the semi-finals of the D2 State Tournament and eventually finished fourth, making her the first female wrestler to medal at the State level and qualify for the All-State Tournament,” The Northbridge coach said. “She was not expected to do this well and in her two of her matches she was losing but came from behind to pin her opponents and gain the victory. She has lived in the shadow of Allie all season and this is a wonderful victory for her and I am so thrilled that she got to make history for the team.”

While the two girls have arrived at the program in different ways they are both shooting for the same result. Reese came from a wrestling family where her father (high school and college) and her brother (high school) both wrestled. When the family moved to Northbridge from Ohio she noticed that the Northbridge program had girls wrestling so she thought that she’d give it a try.

“It was cool, all the coaches were supportive and although I didn’t always get to wrestle girls I was having a good time,” she said. “There were not too many girls wrestling, so I wrestled whoever showed up. It was tough being that the guys have upper body strength, but I just went out and did my best.”

Unlike Reese, Manning was convinced by a friend to get involved and when she first hit the mat she found that she really liked the concept of wrestling, especially team bonding and making new friends.

Although both girls are having success on the mat now, their first year was one that was not a full campaign. Reese dislocated her collar bone and found herself sidelined for about 2 months, while Manning did not actually decided to join the team until mid-way through the season.

“Having joined half way through the season I was a new comer that did not do all that well,” Manning said. “But decided to come back for another year because I had made lot of new friends and although it was hard work, I was having a lot of fun.”

Upon getting involved with the Northbridge program, manning never in her wildest dreams thought that she’d have any kind of success, never mind becoming the first female wrestler to earn a spot in the All-State Tournament.

“Coming in I definitely didn’t see this happening and never thought that I’d make it this far. Once I started to pick up wins with my hard work, it was a possibility,” she said. “Finishing fourth and being the first girl to make it to All-States for Northbridge I felt really proud of myself. Now I want to take it one step further and be successful in the All-State Tournament.”

Reese may be disappointed in her performance, but she is not letting it stand in her way. Wrestling in her second season she discovered a new- found confidence on the mat whether wrestling girls or boys and is looking to improve upon that for her senior season with the Rams.

“With another year under my belt I am looking to take my wrestling further. It was a really big improvement over my first year and with the MIAA having a State Tournament for girls this year was huge,” Reese said. “I am hoping that what we’ve accomplished this year is that more girls will come out for the team. I am going to try to promote the sport as much as I can and hopefully get other girls to try it out.”

Coach Lashley is also hoping that what Reese and Manning accomplished this past season is a bright spot and more girls will come out for the team next winter.

“Allie and Annah are setting a new standard for what we hope for in our girls wrestling team. Annah’s medal at the State Tournament will hopefully inspire new girls to join,” Lashley said. “Both girls are true teammates and their successes are shared because they have become some of the hardest workers in the wrestling room, diligent in their drilling of techniques with each other and supporting the team through enthusiasm while encouraging teammates.”

The duo plans on continuing participating in off-season practices while attending more tournaments to get ready for their senior season. Manning is hoping to get back to the All-States once again next year, while Reese is looking to join her at the tournament.

“It feels nice to set goals for other girls wrestling at Northbridge High School,” Manning said. “When my high school career is over I want to be able to come back and talk to the younger girls and tell them that they can accomplish what I did too if they put in the time and energy.”

Reese echoed her teammate’s words.

“The biggest take-away that I got with wrestling is that no matter what life throws at you, you still need to get up,” she said. “Take the shot, if you don’t win right away, don’t worry about it. Wrestling is a character builder and one of the best ways to stay in shape; it is not like any other sport.”