Denver North Moves Girls Wrestling Forward

By Kathryn White

The crowded gym set off decibel-level warnings as 161 student athletes from 11 schools took turns battling it out on three mats over seven hours. Bleachers full of friends and family cheered athletes on, some moving forward to crouch next to the mats. Little attention was paid to heavy snow falling throughout the day, visible through the gym’s small windows.

Denver North hosted the district league championship for varsity girls and boys wrestling on Feb. 3, and while neither home team walked away with a coveted league title, Vikings wrestlers won top spots in several weight classes.

Vista Peak dominated the competition on both sides, bringing the most wrestlers (14 boys, 10 girls) and scoring 185 and 106 points, respectively, to win league titles.

The Vikings boys brought 12 wrestlers and took fifth with 141.5 points. 

The Vikings girls brought six athletes, scoring a team total of 30.5 points. The 2022 League Champions took seventh this year.

A referee adds points in Rhys Bernier’s (Denver North) winning bout against Mya Prasad (Abraham Lincoln). Photo by Kathryn White

Team captain Rhys Bernier, a 10th-grader, won two of three bouts and scored 11.5 points for her team. Eleventh-grader Jazmine Cano, who attends Denver West and wrestles for North this season, took first in her weight class and brought the team 9 points. Ninth-grader Yma Munoz won both of her bouts, took first in her weight class and brought in 6 points. 

Ninth-grader Catalina DeHerrea and 11th-graders Genevieve Garcia and Maria Medina completed the team effort on the Denver North girls’ side.

Coaches Nefertiti Kiel and Matt Bernier look on as the Denver North girls’ wrestling team competes Feb. 3 in the DPS League Championship, hosted by Denver North High School. Photo by Kathryn White

Coaches Nefertiti Kiel and Matt Bernier brought enthusiasm to the day: for their team, for the sport of wrestling and for Denver Public Schools’ girls’ wrestling in particular.

Since the late 1980s, girls’ and women’s wrestling have marked one historic first after another, including in 2002 when the International Olympic Committee announced that women’s wrestling had been added to the Olympic program, beginning with the 2004 games. That was 100 years after men first took to the mat on the Olympic stage. The National Wrestling Hall of Fame calls girls’ and women’s wrestling one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and around the world.

Yma Munoz (Denver North) in a winning bout against Laura Garcia (Abraham Lincoln). Photo by Kathryn White

When the Denver North girls won the title of district champions in 2022, it was the first year DPS offered girls’ wrestling. Prior to that, individual girls wrestled for boys’ teams. Like coach Kiel, who wrestled in the early 2000s for Manual High School’s boys’ team.

A few miles up Federal Boulevard on Feb. 3, Regis University hosted the Pan-American Olympic Games Qualifier Wrestle-Off and the inaugural Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Women’s Championships, the first NCAA Division II conference championships in women’s wrestling history.

With regional and state competitions following on the heels of the Feb. 3 district competition, the girls of Denver North wrestling looked forward to scoring even more points for the future of girls’ wrestling.

Look for Denver North wrestling results from February’s regional and state competitions at www.trackwrestling.com. Check out all Denver North sports teams on the school athletics calendar at north.dpsk12.org/north-athletics-calendar/

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