History making: Two Lane students compete in first IHSA girls state wrestling championship


Noemi Marchan (far right) stands on the IHSA state podium. (Photo courtesy of Marchan)

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

For any Lane athlete, a fifth place finish at state would be considered special.

But for Lane senior Noemi Marchan, her fifth place finish at the IHSA girls wrestling state finals last month meant even more.

I don’t [know] how to describe it other than amazing,” Marchan told The Champion via direct message. “I was able to compete with some of the best girls in the state and I’m very thankful to be a part of it. So many officials worked super hard to make girls wrestling an IHSA sport and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to participate in it my last year wrestling.”

Marchan and freshman Nyah Lovis were the two Lane wrestlers who qualified for the state finals, the first time one had been held by the IHSA for girls. The competition was held Feb. 25 and 26 at Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington. Lane wrestlers had to qualify through a sectional tournament, which was held at Evanston.

I think the coolest thing about the tournament was being on the podium and having my name forever be in the bracket of the first IHSA Girls State,” Marchan said.

For both Marchan and Lovis, the tournament did not start exactly as planned. After first round wins for both of them, they then each lost their second round matches.

Marchan, competing in the 140 weight class, fell to Antonia Phillips of Alton in round two, while Lovis, competing in the 120, lost to Mackenzie Pratt of Edwardsville.

But, in wrestling, one loss doesn’t put you out of medal contention.

I said, ‘Oh, even though I lost there’s still the next match and I have a shot in it so, the next matches always count,” Lovis said. “So you have to try really hard in those.”

Following the early losses, the Lane wrestlers embarked on the “Blood Rounds,” a consolation bracket in wrestling to determine third place and down.

Head Coach Matthew Yan said he was happy to see Marchan and Lovis bounce back and not dwell on the initial loss.

“My coach, he said ‘It’s OK you lost. It’s still your first year but now we just have to keep on going,’” Lovis said.

Lovis was able to get one more win before her run in the competition ended with a second loss.

“I think the last match I was a bit disappointed just because of the outcome,” Lovis said. “But I think I did try a lot harder than in other matches.”

Marchan took it a bit farther, winning two Blood Round matches, before falling in the consolation semifinals. She defeated Emma Garrett of McHenry in the fifth place match to claim her spot on the podium.

“[It] felt amazing,” Marchan said. “I put in a lot of hours during the off season and ending with [a] win made me feel like all my hard work paid off.”

While Lane’s results offered achievement and room for improvement, the fight to grow girls wrestling continues.

“I think the main thing is just encouraging more girls to take it up and just giving more attention to it,” Lovis said. “I think that will encourage more people to join.”

In order to help expand the sport more, there needs to be more girls tournaments and meets, so that boys and girls can have the same number of matches during the year, according to Yan.

But for now, the first state championship was a good first step towards the expansion of the sport.

“It felt historic,” Yan said.

Marchan agrees.

It validates our work, it makes me feel like we are finally starting to be seen as equal to the guys,” Marchan said. “I know a lot of people look down on women’s wrestling but I really do believe this is a step in the right direction.”