GHSA Girls Wrestling Division Gears Up for Exciting Year Three

Two years ago marked the launch of the first-ever traditional girls state  championships. The introduction of this separate competition followed a historic achievement that was celebrated at the 2018 state championships. It was that year when Statesboro’s Kasey Baynon made history by placing fifth in the boys Class AAAAA 106-pound bracket. In doing so she became the first-ever girl to place in the traditional wrestling state championships.

Baynon’s success and a growing interest behind the possibility of adding a girls division quickly became a reality and the new format made its debut this past February. State qualifiers in 10 different weight classes competed for individual girls titles. The weight classes were divided into 95, 106, 116, 126, 136, 146, 156, 166, 176 and 225. The 10 classes slightly shifted this year to 102, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152, 162, 172, 197 and 225-pound divisions. As a result, there will be a ton of intriguing storylines to keep an eye on.

Stephens County senior Athena Malik posted a second-place finish in 2019 at the 106-pound class before downing Warner Robins Caroline Chavarria in last year’s championship to take the crown. Malik and Chavarria were not the only underclassmen that performed well a year ago. Class of 2023 Lisa Glymph of Marietta defeated Class of 2021 Lia Grace of Alexander for third-place.

North Gwinnett junior Dianna Holmes will look for her third individual state title this year. Holmes topped Malik for the 2019 state title in 2019 and then won last year’s 112-pound division with a victory over Berkmar’s Ally Graham. Peachtree Ridge’s Alitza Dennard placed third last year as a freshman.

Ola’s Amani Jones earned the 122-pound title last year as a junior with her victory over Baldwin’s Catherine Mullis. Berrien’s Cecily Livingston earned third-place, resulting in all three of last year’s top finishers in the 122-pound division belonging to the Class of 2021.

Duluth’s Aki Choates won last year’s 132-pound title over Alexander’s Jatiana Forde. Both finalists have since graduated, but Raven Cook of Jackson County will be a name to watch out for after earning a third-place finish last year as a freshman with her victory over Stone Mountain junior Daisey Gilleylen.

More youth dominated in last year’s 142-pound division, with then-freshman Heidi Raines (Dade County) earning the title over Class of 2023 White County wrestler Sidney Sullens. Also Class of 2021 Tristan Music (Hiram) placed third, while then-sophomore Samantha Hauff and then-freshman Ashley Godinez represented more youth in the fifth-place match.

Tiyahna Askew won the inaugural 156-pound title and then closed out her senior season by capturing last year’s 152-pound championship with a win over Carrollton’s Class of 2023 standout Drina Griggs.

The 162-pound division will also open up after the graduation of Hiram’s Heaven Byrd. Byrd won the 166-pound title in 2019 before making her run to last year’s 162-pound championship. Byrd took down Gilmer’s Francisca Lopez in the finals—who was a junior at the time. Hillgrove’s Sarai Sanders earned a third-place finish in the 162-pound division last year as a junior and finished the year with an 8-1 overall record.

Alexander’s Dream Santiago finished runner-up in the 176-pound division in 2019 before earning the ultimate prize in the 172-pound division last year as a junior. In last year’s third-place match, Northside-Warner Robins Class of 2024 standout Beyonce McColumn defeated Jackson County senior Bre Lumley to make the podium.

The 197-pound division saw Meadowcreek’s Mi’Kel Jiles earn the title with her victory over Antonia Martinez of Johnson-Gainesville. Jiles placed fourth as a sophomore before last year’s championship run. Hampton junior Niaomi Horton will look to improve upon last year’s fourth-place finish.

Finally, in the 225-pound class, Southeast Whitfield senior Teonna Bonds will be looking to take the final step to championship glory after a third-place finish in 2019 and last year’s runner-up finish to two-time state champion Kyleigh Haney of Hiram.

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