Maddie Ripley of Oceanside won the 113-pound Class B state wrestling championship on Feb. 17 in Rumford. The Class B title is her second and comes a year after she became the first Maine girl to win a state championship wrestling against boys. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Maddie Ripley’s high school career has officially come to an end. And it’s time, as the kids say, to give some flowers.

Ripley, the trailblazing wrestler from Oceanside High School in Rockland, finished her career in triumph last weekend, capturing the 107-pound title at the inaugural New England girls championship in Providence, Rhode Island. Ripley beat Tatianna Irizarry of Ledyard, Connecticut by a 6-2 decision to capture the crown.

“It feels really good,” Ripley said Monday about her New England title. “It’s really, really big. There was a lot of people there, but I’m used to those two-day tournaments because we (participated) in some (last) summer.”

While the New England title is the perfect cap to her career, the highlight of Ripley’s season came on Feb. 17, when she captured the 113-pound title at the Class B championships at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford. Last season, Ripley became the first girl in Maine to win an individual state title against boys. This year, she achieved the feat again, but in a different weight class.

Dave Dyer column photo

Ripley’s achievements have been well-documented, both in Maine and beyond. And as her high school wrestling career comes to a close, now is the time to savor the impact Ripley has had in not just in wrestling, but in girls sports in Maine.

After all, what Ripley accomplished may never be seen in Maine again. Ripley is not the first girl in Maine to compete against boys in a championship match — that honor went to Deanna Rix of Marshwood High School. Rix dropped a 2-1 decision to Shane Leadbetter of Sanford in the 2005 Class A championships.


It’s certainly possible that another girl wrestler could challenge for a championship in an open state tournament in the future. However, the reality is, Ripley and Rix were generational talents.

“Deanna showed that outliers that really put in the effort can compete fairly well,” said Mt. Blue head coach Mike Hansen, who wrestled for Mountain Valley during the same time Rix competed. “But she has a long list of accolades, world titles, Olympic trials. For a girl that is that good against girls, not being able to compete fairly against boys in high school goes to show you (how tough it is). It’s no sleight on her talent, she’s amazing.

“Maddie Ripley is the same scenario,” Hansen continued. “She’s an outlier of talent amongst these other girls, puts in the work ethic and competes very well against the boys. … Though we want the playing field to be fair, boys and girls can’t compete fair on an average. Maddie and Deanna are outliers. They are that much better.”

There’s also the rise of girls wrestling. This season, girls had more opportunities to wrestle against their own gender. Skowhegan Area High School hosted the first regular season all-girls tournament. Several other tournaments, such as the Noble Invitational in North Berwick, have included a girls tournament to coincide with its co-ed tournament.

The Maine State Girls Wrestling Championship may have been the best example at the growth of girls wrestling this season. A total of 97 wrestlers competed in the tournament at Winslow High School on Feb. 20, nearly double last year’s number of 50. That number will surely rise next year and into the future.

Maddie Ripley of Oceanside wrestles Noah Parenteau of Belfast during the 113-pound Class B state wrestling championship match on Feb. 17 in Rumford. Ripley won by decision, 6-3. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Some programs in Maine, such as Noble and Mt. Blue, are looking to field standalone girls wrestling teams that would compete in their own league, not unlike boys and girls basketball. Someday, we may very well see a girls wrestling league in Maine, which would be a welcomed addition to the sports landscape in Maine.


This rise in numbers is, in part, due to Ripley’s success. Don’t believe it? Ask her colleagues.

“With her beating the guys, it sets a good goal for us,” said Belfast Area High School freshman Zady Paige, a girls state champion in the 165-pound class. “I think she motivated a lot of girls to start wrestling.”

“I think she has had a big impact on the younger girls looking up to her,” added Skowhegan’s Sophie Noyes. “Going to tournaments and, there’s always little girls there wearing ‘Ripley’ T-shirts or something. Last year at (the New England qualifier), there was a little girl in a singlet, running around (the gym) just to watch Maddie wrestle.”

Though Ripley’s high school career in Maine is over, her time on the mat is far from done. Ripley said she is close to deciding which prep school she’ll attend next fall.

“Hopefully I’ll (eventually) win prep New Englands,” Ripley said. “Then, in college, I want to be a national champion. After college, hopefully it’s the world team and then the Olympics.”

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