Richards freshman Mia Palumbo becomes first girl ever to win match at IHSA state wrestling meet - Entertainment And Sports

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Richards freshman Mia Palumbo becomes first girl ever to win match at IHSA state wrestling meet

Richards freshman Mia Palumbo is used to winning on the wrestling mat, so it took a moment for her to realize the significance of her latest victory.

With her opening round victory Thursday, Palumbo became the first girl in Illinois to win a match in the 80-year history of the IHSA wrestling state meet. She rallied to a 4-2 victory over Springfield's Kaeden Kinison in her Class 2A 106-pound match to advance in the tournament.

"At first, I didn't really think it was a big deal," Palumbo said. "Then it sunk in that no girl's ever done this before. Hopefully, I just set the standard and more girls will want to try to do what I've done and get into wrestling."

Palumbo, along with Dunbar's Quiovany Santos in this year's meet, were two of just four girls ever to qualify for state. Santos fell short in her match Thursday.

Palumbo said she was nervous going into the match.

"There was a lot of pressure," she said. "Once I got out there, as the match went on I got more comfortable. I just wanted to compete for the full six minutes and see what happened. Thankfully, I pulled off the win. It was awesome."

Down 2-0 entering the final period, Palumbo (29-3) came back, scoring a two-point takedown and a two-point near fall to earn the win.

"It was a tough match," Palumbo said. "Once it was over, everyone was cheering so loud. I've had people clap for me before, but nothing like that. It was so cool."

Palumbo and Santos both advanced to the state finals, becoming the third and fourth girls to qualify.

Santos, however, was pinned by Camp Point Central's Zach Foote in her opening match Thursday.

The first two girls to advance to the state finals, Glenbard North's Caitlyn Chase in 2005 and Carbondale's Alli Ragan in 2007, both did not win a match.

Palumbo will face a tough test Friday, taking on Marengo's Landen Pfeiffer (39-3) in the quarterfinals. Pfeiffer finished fifth in the state at 106 last season and is ranked No. 1 at the weight class by the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association.

If Palumbo beats Pfeiffer, she would advance to Friday night's semifinals against either East St. Louis' Anthony King (39-3) or downstate Washington's Abraham Hinrichsen (38-3).

Richards coach Nick Grabarek said Palumbo should be more relaxed after getting through the first match.

"The first match is always the hardest," he said. "I think it's a huge burden off her."

Steve Millar is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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