Anya Knappenberger

Stephen Decatur sophomore Anya Knappenberger took first place in the 112-pound division of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Girls Invitational Wrestling Tournament, held Feb. 2, at Northeast High School in Pasadena.

(Feb. 8, 2019) Stephen Decatur sophomore Anya Knappenberger took first place in the 112-pound division of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Girls Invitational Wrestling Tournament, held Feb. 2, at Northeast High School in Pasadena.

Decatur Coach Todd Martinek said Knappenberger was “dominant.”

“She wrestled three matches [earning] a pin and two tech [falls]. She outscored her opponents a combined 45-0,” he said. “It was the second event by the MPSSAA. It’s becoming a nationwide thing. Women’s college wrestling is booming and there are professional women’s leagues oversees.”

Knappenberger received a first-round bye. She pinned her first opponent, then scored a 15-0 technical-fall victory. She earned a 16-0 technical fall in the final round.

“I feel like I dominated my opponents pretty well,” she said. “I felt like I had pretty good control the entire time.”

About 80 girls participated in the tournament. Close to a dozen girls were in Knappenberger’s weight class.

“It’s good to wrestle some girls to see where you stand against girls in your own state … A lot of times during the season you don’t get to see girls your weight, because it’s mostly a guy-dominant sport,” she said. “We just need to keep pushing girls and get more people to notice girls can wrestle and just keep pushing the sport, and I think everything will fall into place then.”

Knappenberger took first in the 108-pound division of the state competition last year, wrestling for Urbana High School. She then placed fifth in the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals in Oklahoma City.

A Decatur transfer at the start of the 2018-19 school year, Knappenberger plans on competing in the national event again this year at the end of March.

“I’m hoping to go out and win this year,” she said.

Knappenberger said her dad introduced her to the sport. She tried it and liked it, she said. She is now in her third year participating in wrestling.

She said she’s enjoyed being a part of the Decatur wrestling program this year.

“It’s really great. Everyone’s super supportive, which really helps makes you want to stick through it even though it gets hard sometimes,” she said.

“Anya’s an incredible worker,” Martinek said. “She puts in more hours then most boys on the team. She’s a 4.0 student [and] only a sophomore. I’ve already had college coaches contact me about her.”

Knappenberger went 27-14 last year wrestling for Urbana, which won the Maryland 4A dual title. She is just the fourth female wrestler in Decatur’s program history, and the first to compete for the varsity squad. She is currently 12-3.

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