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  • Matt O'Rourke

20 WNY High School Wrestlers to Watch This Season

Cover photo courtesy of Bob Blair

Participation in girls' high school wrestling continues to grow here in WNY and New York State at large. Rosters acorss the state are multiplyng year to year with student-athletes who are new to the sport as well as up and coming youth stars. As the foundation and infrastructure for girls' wrestling at the scholastic level continues to strengthen under the guidance of the NYSPHSAA Girls Wrestling Committee, the countdown to full sanctioning is on.

After two seasons and now two weeks into the third year of organized girls' scholastic wrestling, today's stars carry impressive resumes while newer wrestlers continue to build their own. This season, there are 208 girls certified to compete in varsity/JV wrestling amongst WNY high school teams accounting for sixteen percent of all certified female wrestlers in the state and an increase of seventy-two more athletes from 2022-2023 just here in WNY. Here are some wrestlers to especially keep an eye on to lead the area through the regular season and into postseason championships later this winter.

Gabriella Barone – 8th grade – Niagara Wheatfield


Barone captured the 100-pound title at the first NYSPHSAA Girls’ Invitational in January 2023, pinning her way to gold with four falls in the first two periods of each match, including the final. The next day, Gabriella was on the Falcons’ roster and competed in the state dual meet championships in Syracuse, wrestling in both of Wheatfield’s duals. She captured the 100-pound title at the 4th Girls’ Intersectional Championships and then placed in both the Section VI Class A tournament (4th) and Section VI Div. I Championships (6th), capping off a season in which she competed in nearly 45 varsity bouts. By any standard, for boys or girls, Barone had a remarkable first season at the varsity level, especially as a 7th grader(!).

Photo courtesy of Bob Blair


Christina Evans – senior – West Seneca West


Evans wrestled to a runner-up finish at the NYSPHSAA girls’ invite last January as part of another strong season. One of the top female wrestlers in WNY in recent years, Christina went 25-4 in all matches last season (mixed competition, varsity, JV, and female only events) covering 132 to 152-pounds. She just won her third straight North Tonawanda Ladyjacks Tournament title. Last season, Evans won the Chautauqua Lake, Knuutila, and Eden tournament titles and took 3rd at the Eastern State’s girls’ division at 132. She was also named tournament MOW at Niagara CCC.


Alexa Doxey – 8th grade – Newfane


Alexa wrestled to a runner-up finish at the state girls’ invitational in Syracuse at 126-pounds, going 3-1 on the day with three pins on the way to the final. Doxey was a regular in the Panthers’ lineup in 2022-2023, winning fifteen varsity matches and taking 1st at the Linda Knuutila Memorial girls’ tournament. She was a runner-up in the Niagara-Orleans league tournament and competed in the Panthers’ lineup for Section VI Dual Meet championship and the Section VI Class C/D tournament.

Photo courtesy of Bob Blair

Michaela Thomas – sophomore – Iroquois


Thomas had an outstanding freshman campaign going 19-8 in all competitions and taking 3rd at the state girls’ invitational at 152-pounds. Michaela appeared in the Chiefs lineup a number of times through the season and competed in the Section VI Class B championships in the varsity post-season. Thomas just won her second Ladyjacks tournament title and also won the Chautauqua Lake intersection title last season where she was the Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Ava Bragg – sophomore – Lockport


Bragg went 18-4 in all competitions in the 2022-2023 season and took 3rd at the state girls’ invitational at 165-pounds, winning five straight matches to take bronze after falling in the first round. Ava won Knuttila and Chautauqua Lake girls’ titles a season ago and won the Ladyjack Tournament title over this past weekend.

Hannah McCarley – senior – North Tonawanda


One of the most well traveled wrestlers in WNY (along with her sister), Hannah took 4th at the state girls’ invitational last season and appeared in the varsity lineup throughout the season. Like West Seneca’s Evans, McCarley is now a 3x Ladyjack tournament winner. She won the Chautauqua Lake title a season ago and ended the season taking 6th in Section VI Class A at 110-pounds. This season, Hannah has already appeared in the Lumberjacks’ lineup five times and will be a regular on Coach Fire’s roster through the winter.

Photo courtesy of Bob Blair


Khamya J’Maxwell – sophomore – Lockport


Khamya took 5th at the state girls’ invitational last January and won the Knuutila tournament title on the way to a 13-4 overall record for the season. Along with Bragg, J’Maxwell is a leader on a 20-strong roster of Lockport Lady Lions this season.


Louisa Martin – senior – St. Mary’s


Louisa claimed her second Ladyjack title over the weekend and wrestled in all eight of St. Mary’s matches at the Southtowns Duals on opening weekend. Martin was a Msgr. Martin All-Catholic runner-up in 2022-2023 and was the 94-pound champion at the CL intersectional tournament.

Meyah Aponte – senior – Fredonia


Meyah won the Ladyjack 100-pound title over the weekend to kick off her senior campaign. Last season, she won a match at the state invitational and posted runner-up finishes at the CL girls’ invite and the Linda Knuutila Memorial Tournament.  

Leah Waite – sophomore – Fredonia


Waite won over ten bouts in 2022-2023 as a freshman and placed at a number of tournaments. She won the Ladyjack and CL Invite titles last season and placed at the Knuutila tournament and fell only to Wheatfield’s Barone at the intersectional tournament. Leah was one match away from placing at the state girls’ invite going 2-2 in the 100-pound bracket. She was second at North Tonawanda last weekend only to NT’s B. McCarley.

Marissa Tara – junior – Orchard Park


Marissa appeared in Coach Teal’s varsity lineup a number of times last season while also appearing in plenty of girls’ only events. She competed at the state invitational at 114-pounds, won the ECIC girls' tournament, and took 3rd at the intersection and Knuutila tournaments.

Brenna McCarley – senior – North Tonawanda


Competed at the 1st NYSPHSAA Girls’ Invitational but missed placing last January. Nonetheless, she still had a strong 2022-2023 season winning Knuutila, Ladyjack, and Chautauqua Lake titles. So far this season, Brenna has a 12-2 total record and has appeared in all nine of NT’s duals thus far. Brenna and twin sister Hannah have been two of the biggest student-athlete spokes-women for girls’ high school wrestling in NYS.

Photo courtesy of Bob Blair


Georgia Zorich – sophomore – Sweet Home


The up and coming Panther 10th grader is a returning ECIC champion and just wrestled to a runner-up place finish in North Tonawanda, going 3-1 on the day with two pins at 126. Georgia is 6-1 so far this season with three wins coming at the Sweet Home Duals.

Alexiya Thuman – junior – Lake Shore


Thuman is 5-0 total to start the 2023-2024 season. A year ago, Alexiya won over 20 matches, took first at the ECIC Girls’ Championships, and won the Penfield-Hunter girls’ tournament as well, which she just repeated as champion at on Dec. 9th. She competed at the state girls’ invitational as well but had to bow out due to injury.

Avery White – junior – Frontier


White won double digit victories in 2022-2023 and placed in all but one tournament, going 2-2 at the state invitational. Avery is off to a hot start in this new season as she went 5-0 with five pins at the Penfield tournament over the weekend to win the 138-pound girls’ tournament title. Avery was awarded team honors as the Frontier MOW in the 2022-2023 season.

Mia Smith – junior – Chautauqua Lake


Smith had an outstanding sophomore season winning over fifteen total matches and competing at the state invitational. Mia went 3-0 to win the Chautauqua Lake Intersectional tournament’s 132-pound bracket and wrestled to a 2nd place finish at the very strong King and Queen Bison Invitational at Shaker HS (II) in Albany. Last season, she placed at the Knuutila and Ladyjack tournaments and won the Bradshaw and CL Invite titles as well. Smith is already 4-0 this season with four pins for the Ladyjack 132-pound tournament title.

Nevaeh Senik – freshman – Niagara Wheatfield


Senik dominated the field at last weekend’s Ladyjack tournament going 4-0 with four pins to win the 138-pound title. She went 1-2 at the state invite a season ago but won over ten matches including the Knuutila tournament title and took 3rd place at Chautauqua Lake.

Gabriella Testa – junior – Chautauqua Lake


Testa has been a main player on the Chautauqua Lake girls’ squad since the inaugural season in 2021-2022. She has ten top-5 place finishes in tournaments in that time. Last season, she won the CL invite and the Knuutila tournament and wrestled to four more top-4 places including a runner-up performance at the Bison invite. Gabriella competed in the NYSPHSAA invitational but did miss placing at 126-pounds.

Photo courtesy of Jason Bower

Sophia Gervasio – senior – Chautauqua Lake


Gervasio claimed her second straight Ladyjack tournament title over the weekend earning two pins and a narrow 4-0 decision in the 145-pound final. Although she went 0-2, Sophia got valuable experience at the state invite last January. She placed in six tournaments last season to include three 3rd place finishes and a runner-up performance at the CL intersectional event.

Ryann Berner – freshman – Clarence


Berner was in the Red Devils’ varsity/JV room last season and won the ECIC girls’ title as an 8th grader. Now a freshman with another year of experience, Ryann should be an athlete to keep an eye on around the 165-pound range in the girls’ weight classes. She started the season 3-0 with three pins in varsity exhibitions at the Sweet Home Duals.




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