Local girl hopes to pin a win in Michigan
July 20, 2017
Courtesy Penny Blackman-Hobbs
Sierra Starr isn't like most twelve-year-old girls. Instead of spending her summer doing the usual things girls her age do, she is about to be part of history in the making by participating in the inaugural year of female wrestling in the AAU Junior Olympics.
Starr is part of the Tri-State Grapplers, a local wrestling group and, according to her grandmother Penny Hobbs, she is currently ranked sixth in the U.S. in her weight class.
Starting out, Starr had to compete against male opponents because no female team had been formed yet.
"She has wrestled for five years," Hobbs said. "The first three years was against the boys and she was ready to quit. After she started developing, it was awkward for her to wrestle them."
Starr isn't afraid to take on any competition, no matter the gender or the size.
"She's been wrestling opponents twice her size, both male and female," said Hobbs. "She's not afraid to go after them. She was at 78 (pounds) wrestling in the 117 weight class, but she never got pinned. The boys are kind of scared of her, I like it."
After wrestling against boys at the start of career, the Grapplers finally fielded an all-girls team two years ago. That was when Starr took second place in her weight division at the Nebraska state competition in Grand Island.
"She also took second this year, second in Colorado and second in nationals out of 13 states," added Hobbs. "That's our big joke... 'Second, again?'"
Just in its second year in the NEUSAW (Nebraska USA Wrestling), the Grappler girls are starting to enjoy a growth in popularity, not only in membership, but in the crowd as well.
"We had 67 girls that first year," said Hobbs. "This year, we had 89. It's only 22 more but it's slowly growing."
Now that she has two years of wrestling other girls under her belt, Starr is set to head to Novi, Michigan, where she will compete July 31-Aug. 1.
"We're going to be there on July 29 to weigh-in," Hobbs added. "She is training with two Olympians, plus another who is training to be on the U.S. Olympic team. We'll be in Kearney July 24-27, and I'll pick her up on the 27th and drive to Michigan. It'll be a 19-hour drive."
Starr and Hobbs have both been raising money to help pay for the trip and recently got some big donations from area businesses.
So, in keeping with history," does Hobbs believe her granddaughter will be happy with another second-place finish at the Junior Olympics?
Hobbs said, "I don't care if she places last, all I want for her to do is try her hardest and have fun."
If anyone would like to donate to Starr's trip to the Junior Olympics, contact Penny Hobbs at [email protected]