Destrehan adds to growth of Louisiana female wrestling
November 25th, 2013 | Editor

For a program only in its sixth year B.C.L.,¹ Destrehan High School is primed to do something no other wrestling team has ever done: field three girls in their varsity wrestling line-up.  Senior Nicole Robichaux and sophomore Abby Nette are expected to compete Tuesday evening at Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville.  New to wrestling, freshman Edrena François might be on the Wildcats' roster.  De la Salle and Hahnville will also participate in the quad-meet.

Add to those three young ladies Doyline's Brittany Bates and Shelbie Wain, East Ascension's Angelica Luna and Dutchtown's Kristi Sappè and that makes six young ladies taking to the mat this season.

Six women competitors may not seem like much, but it is a crucial step toward Louisiana fielding female wrestling squads as are the norm in the states of California, Texas, Washington, Oregon, New York, Michigan and Hawaii, to name a few.  Girls competing on the mat in Louisiana have been rare, but it dates back as far as 1994 when of 15 middle school girls, Jessica Bayard of Andrew Jackson High School stayed on the team to compete at the varsity level.

This will be the high school debut for Nette, but she is not lacking in experience.  She won three freestyle and one folkstyle USAW championships while wrestling for the Scorpion Wrestling Club from 2009-11.  As a seventh-grader in 2011 Nette won the U.S. Girls Folkstyle National Championship in Oklahoma City.  But she admits she is a little nervous about her first match in high school.  She was sidelined for three years with a severe back injury after winning her national title and missed the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.  She's not lacking in the pedigree area, either.  Her father John won a state championship for Bonnabel in 1978.

Robichaux has wrestled since her sophomore year at least (according to TrackWrestling records) and last season recorded her first pin.

Bates has been the girl to watch in Louisiana for the last two years.  While receiving far too many forfeits early in her career, she finally garnered enough respect for opposing coaches to let their boys wrestle her last season.  In 2012-13 Bates posted a 34-20 actual match record with 27 wins by falls.  Only a freshman, she was one point away from a medal in the LHSAA Division III state championships.  Since then she has won a USAW freestyle state championship and placed fourth at the USAW Women's National Championships.  She is expected to be a high seed in the LHSAA Division III state championships in February.

The Destrehan ladies have a harder road to LHSAA glory as Destrehan is a Division I school.  But awards, while nice, cannot be counted as more important than the mere fact that the ladies are participating, and participating well.  It takes courage to step on the mat against any opponent for both genders.  And now, from "baby steps" taken at Andrew Jackson high school in 1994, young ladies winning matches is no longer deemed an anomaly.

For Nette, even if they do not come on Tuesday night, victories will come.  Nette is used to winning.

¹ B.C.L. Before Caleb Levee - the time at which the LWN editor first saw high school wrestlers compete in a style "with which he was not familiar," in 2005.

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