Girl wrestler will be first in state contest

Girl wrestler will be first in state contest



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VERNAL, Utah (AP) -- Candace Workman doesn't think about smashing stereotypes or making history, but she's doing both.

On Thursday the Uintah High sophomore will hit the mat at the Class 3-A state high school wrestling tournament as the first girl to wrestle in the event. Workman's first match is against Tooele freshman Jake Prather.

"I will just be thinking about winning my matches," she said. "Maybe later, I will think about the significance of it."

Workman earned her slot in the state tournament with a third-place finish in the 103-pound division at the Region 11 meet last weekend in Morgan. She pinned one competitor in less than a minute in one match.

For the season, Workman has a 22-6 record in varsity matches. Her overall record is 35-6. Since starting the sport nine years ago, she's also won four female national titles for her age group. Her goal is to make the U.S. Women's Olympic Wrestling Team.

"What it means and all that is probably up to other people to decide," she said. "I just hope other girls who think wrestling is a great sport will see it and read about it and think, 'If she can do it, so can I."'

In 2004, Workman drew some attention when she was excluded from wrestling against boys at a Spanish Fork tournament. Legal action was threatened and officials reversed their decision.

Washington state and Hawaii both have separate competitions for high school girls. But Workman doesn't want Utah to do that.

Her Uintah coach, Gregg Stensgard, said Workman's novelty wore off long ago. He says she works out, runs and lifts weights like every other wrestler.

"She's legitimate," said Wasatch coach Steve Sanderson, father of Olympic Gold Medalist Cael Sanderson. "She's a good athlete, she's dedicated and she's tough."

This year, six boys from out-of-state schools forfeited matches rather than wrestle Workman. Some said they didn't want to lose to a girl, while some cited religious reasons.

"I hate that," Workman said. "There were two brothers from Wyoming that said it was against their morals and their religion. That made me upset. They are (Latter-day Saints) and so am I. It's not anything sexual out there, trust me." ------ Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-02-06-07 1747MST

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