Anunthaya MacDonnell of Falmouth High won titles in each of the first two years of the girls’ state wrestling tournament. She also went 19-11 against mostly boys during the regular season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

FALMOUTH — Tony Napolitano has been coaching wrestling at Portland High for 17 years, so any reservations he might have had about a girl from Falmouth training with the boys on his team disappeared when he watched Anunthaya MacDonnell on the mat.

“She takes wrestling more seriously than probably 80 percent of the team,” Napolitano said, “so she fits in great.”

A 16-year-old junior at Falmouth High, MacDonnell last month became the first two-time champion at the high school girls’ state tournament.

She won the 120-pound division last year. This year she won at 113 and did not give up a point. She also was honored with the tournament’s Sportsmanship Award.

Competing against mostly boys in regular season, MacDonnell went 19-11 and finished fifth at regionals.

Q. How long have you been wrestling?

A. Since I was 9 years old. I was at school one day and saw a flyer about wrestling.

Q. You’re originally from Camden. When did you move?

A. I moved to Falmouth my freshman year of high school.

Q. And Falmouth doesn’t offer wrestling?

A. I wrestle independently. The deal is, I score points for Falmouth, but I train with Portland and I’m coached by Tony Napolitano and David Elowitch.

Q. What’s it like being a team of one?

A. It would be nice to be able to score points for a team, because I feel like in dual meets there’s a lot of adrenaline: ‘Oh, I need to get a pin for the team because it really matters toward winning the meet.’

Q. How do boys react when they lose to you?

A. A lot of them accept it and move on. I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between a girl wrestler and a wrestler. I feel like in co-ed wrestling, it should all be one.

Q. What other sports have you tried?

A. I tried soccer and basketball and field hockey. None of those really stuck. I just didn’t have a passion for any of them.

Q. Why did wrestling stick?

A. It’s more of a lifestyle than a sport. There’s a lot that goes into it, especially your diet.

Q. What’s a typical day like, meal-wise?

A. Scrambled eggs with no salt (for breakfast). A couple of hours later I’ll eat some almonds or cashews. A salad for lunch. Lots of water throughout the day. For dinner, I usually eat another salad but with lots of protein.

Q. Why did you wrestle in a lower weight class this winter?

A. My freshman year, I was wrestling at 113 most of the time. My sophomore year, I wrestled at 120 and gained a lot of weight and got up to 136. I felt like I couldn’t perform very well at that weight, even against girls. So I ate a clean diet and did a lot of cardio over the summer to get my weight down.

Q. Is there a story behind your name?

A. My mom is from Thailand. She moved here about 30 years ago. My dad is from Maine. He grew up near Mount Katahdin.

Q. Do you have brothers and sisters?

A. I have four siblings. I’m in the middle.

Q. Do any of them wrestle?

A. My two younger siblings, they tried wrestling in elementary school. It was fun to coach them, but they didn’t really stick with it. I liked going to their practices to help them out. It was really fun, but not for them.

Q. How about your older siblings?

A. My older sister was a theater kid. My older brother actually has cerebral palsy and he’s deaf. So he played soccer and basketball for the Baxter School for the Deaf. 

Q. Did watching your brother face his challenges have an effect on you?

A. When he played basketball and soccer, I thought it was really cool seeing him being brave and going out there and doing what he liked to do. He’s very independent. He can do his own laundry. He can cook for himself.

Q. Why do you think you won the Sportsmanship Award?

A. I feel like I’m very friendly with all of the wrestlers. I go out of my way to talk about offseason wrestling, more opportunities to get better for next season. I like talking to female wrestlers from other teams, because I feel like there should be a lot more girls from Maine wrestling at nationals, but there aren’t that many who go out there.

Q. Ever had a serious injury from wrestling?

A. Yeah, I sprained my (acromioclavicular) joint (in the shoulder) at regionals in the match that I lost. That was about 10 days before girls’ states, so I had to rest a lot. We taped it up before the tournament but it was still hurting.

Q. Any other hidden talents?

A. In my free time, I enjoy painting. It’s fun and soothing. I don’t take any visual art classes, but I do like drawing and painting at home.

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