Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman in the U.S. Supreme Court. Arabella Mansfield was the first female lawyer in America. Joining them is sophomore Jasmine Gong, the first ever Maryland girls’ wrestling champion.
On Mar. 5 through Mar. 7, the MPSSAA Wrestling State Tournament took place at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro. This was the first year Maryland had an official girls’ state tournament, and it was highly competitive.
Before each of her matches began, Gong isolated herself and prayed. Match after match Gong won, leading up to semifinals. Within the first period of her semifinal match, Gong had her opponent pinned. This was a big win, and next was finals. Her opponent blocked her moves but eventually Gong caught her in a bad position and pinned her.
“She has a great work ethic. She put a lot of work over the past summer to get ready for the season. I’m honored I’ve gotten to coach her and I’m very proud of her accomplishment on being the first ever girls’ MPSSAA Wrestling Champion,” Coach Shane Bramble said.
Gong was first introduced to wrestling in middle school gym class. At first, she didn’t have much interest in it, but as the unit progressed so did her love for it. As Gong continued to show interest in the sport, a former wrestling coach at the school acknowledged her skill and recruited her as a freshman.
As spring of Gong’s freshman year approached and the season began, Gong lost nearly all her matches. This failure from her first season only caused her to grow as an athlete and person. Gong continued to train during the off-season leading up to spring of her sophomore year. She began winning matches, but still wants to improve and grow even more. “One thing my coach told me that always stuck with me was if I come to practice every day and give 100 percent I am still on par with everyone else,” Gong said.
In such a male-dominated sport, Gong is able to stand confidently on a team of all boys knowing she has a place. This wasn’t always the case. Freshman year Gong had to hype herself up before matches in order to feel empowered as she wrestled boys twice her size. Through wrestling, Gong has a newfound confidence within herself, and will continue to improve throughout the rest of her wrestling career. “I am very proud of Jasmine. I have watched how hard she works every day at practice, and can tell you that she truly earned this state championship through her effort daily,” athletic director Alton Lightsey said.