Noble High teammates celebrate as Hannah Perro pins Massabesic’s John Madigan to win the 106-pound match during the 2023 state duals wrestling meet at Cony High in February. Later in the month, Perro won 100-pound title at the girls’ wrestling state championships. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

This season marks the first time high school female wrestlers are getting their own regular-season meets to help get them more competitive matches – and to be better prepared for the postseason individual girls’ tournament.

On Thursday, Noble High will join a short list of sites to offer Maine high school tournaments for girls. Skowhegan High and Mountain Valley of Rumford held girls-only tournaments earlier this season. The Maine Principals’ Association has offered an individual girls’ wrestling championship since 2019.

The Noble Invitational runs Wednesday and Thursday. Hosted by the defending Class A champion Noble Knights, it is annually one of the toughest, deepest tournaments in the state. The girls’ tournament will be held on Thursday, with the final rounds to be interspersed with final rounds of the traditional co-ed tournament.

Noble Coach Kevin Gray said as of Friday he had commitments from six girls from his school and about a dozen girls from other teams.

Girls-only tournaments have value, Kathleen Cote said. A first-year wrestler, the Noble senior is the younger sister of Josh and Derek Cote, who were both three-time state champions at Noble.

“It’s good for some girls that are afraid to start wrestling because they’re intimidated by the strength of guys and just wrestling guys can be a scary topic,” she said, adding she counts herself as someone who did not want to wrestle boys.


Some of Maine’s female wrestlers are used to competing against boys – and winning. Oceanside senior Maddie Ripley, who will not be at the Noble Invitational, became the first girl in Maine to win a state individual title last season in the Class B 106-pound division. Noble sophomore Hannah Perro has been a varsity starter for the defending Class A champions and now wrestles at 113 pounds. Noble freshman Delaney Frost is a 10-year wrestling veteran.

But even experienced female wrestlers can have a difficult time getting matches during the regular season, Perro said.

“A lot of the matches are varsity only, so you have to make varsity. Even JV a lot of the times boys are stronger,” said Perro, who won last year’s MPA girls’ wrestling 100-pound title. “So it’s definitely harder to get matches.”

High school girls’ wrestling has seen a rapid growth. In 2009-10, a total of 6,134 girls wrestled nationally, according to data from the National Federation of State High School Associations. Last season, that number had risen to 50,016. Girls represented nearly a sixth of all high school wrestlers (259,431 boys wrestled).

Maine has not seen the same growth. In 2009-10, 96 girls wrestled in Maine. Last season the total was 93, though that was a significant rise from 65 the year before, the first season after the pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020-21 season.

Gray said he’s convinced that number is on the rise this season, citing as examples Noble’s first-year wrestlers Cote, freshman Ella Brown, sophomore Elaina Gagnon, and Lilou Gardien, a senior exchange student from France.

“We hope having girls-only tournaments grows the opportunity and creates more buzz around it and to get more participants,” Gray said. “For us, to have girls who have never participated before is big. Now there’s talk that more want to join now that they’re seeing their peers compete.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: