Josey Diaz, breaking the mold

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Josey Diaz was a three-time state placer for Point Beach. She won the 136 lbs. state championship in 2012, winning all three of her matches. [MARK SULLIVAN]

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — When the NJSIAA Executive Committee unanimously approved a girls wrestling state tournament on Oct. 10, 2018, Josey Diaz drank a beer.

Wrestling since she was 8 years old, Ms. Diaz never had a chance to wrestle alongside the boys in Atlantic City. She made sure she was there for the first girls state tournament sanctioned by NJSIAA on Saturday, March 3.

“When I found out, I had a beer, I celebrated, I was very excited,” Ms. Diaz said. “Every time someone would talk to me and I would flip the conversation, I’d be like, ‘Hey guess what?’ Guess who’s going to be in Atlantic City watching girls wrestling? It’s going to be me.”

The sport of wrestling was much different when Ms. Diaz competed in high school.

Instead of wrestling inside a packed Boardwalk Hall, Diaz wrestled at the state championships inside Union High School, surrounded mostly by wrestlers and their families. A tournament sanctioned by USA Wrestling, Ms. Diaz competed against three other girls in her weight class in a round-robin type tournament.

Most of the state tournaments she competed in featured four different weight classes with as few as two girls in each class and at most, four. This year, the NJSIAA state tournament consisted of 10 different weight classes with six girls in each class. A total of 60 girls had a chance to be crowned a state champion.

New Jersey went from having 126 girls wrestling last year to 422 females competing this season.

“I’m not surprised, I am excited,” Ms. Diaz said. “I’ve seen a lot more girls who aren’t afraid or intimidated by doing things lots of people still consider for boys.”

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.