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GOOD NEWS!: Ortiz makes history at first state girls’ wrestling tournament


Record-setting wrestler also a rising music star

By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

RCS wrestler Alivia Ortiz competing at the first-ever Girls Wrestling Individual Tournament, where she placed third in the state — and paved the way for future female wrestlers at RCS. Gina Pelletier/For Capital Region Independent Media

RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — RCS junior Alivia Ortiz made school history when she traveled to the first-ever statewide all-girls’ wrestling competition in Syracuse.

Ortiz placed third in the state, out of 203 wrestlers.

She tied with Tamarac wrestler Ragan Retell for first place for the most single match points with 18 and came in second for total match points with 54.

The match in which she scored 18 points was the clincher for Ortiz, nabbing her third place overall in the tournament.

There were 203 female athletes competing at the first Girls’ Wrestling State Invitational, and Ortiz placed 30th overall — competing as her own team, since RCS does not have any other female varsity wrestlers.

It was the first time female wrestlers from across New York state gathered for an all-girls’ wrestling tournament.

“Alivia Ortiz had the longest wrestling journey according to the 16-person brackets and how they played out,” Ortiz’s coach, Justin Schipano, said. “After a first-round loss, she then wrestled for five more matches to place third overall — it is a road that not many have endured to tell the tale.”

She competed in six matches during the daylong competition.

“Alivia did this with such courage and tenacity throughout the day that she accumulated some exquisite statistics in her favor,” Schipano said. “Alivia was never taken down the whole tournament! Only one opponent scored on her out of six matches.”

There was plenty of local support and community spirit on hand during the inaugural girls’ wrestling competition, all of them rooting for Ortiz.

“Not only was there magic on the mat for Alivia, but there were also over 40 spectators, teammates and fans in attendance specifically for Alivia,” Schipano said. “This is a new excitement for us veteran coaches, and I will speak for all of us on the RCS coaching staff. It was such an honor to have been a part of Alivia’s successful journey through the inaugural state girls’ wrestling tournament.”

Alivia Ortiz and the coaching staff at the first all-girls wrestling tournament. Gina Pelletier/For Capital Region Independent Media

Ortiz, a junior at RCS, competes in the 138-pound weight class. During the regular wrestling season, she competes almost exclusively against male opponents, and has racked up a winning 6-5 record during the 2022-23 season.

In four of her matches this season she pinned her opponent, picking up wins for the Indians against Lansingburgh, Hyde Park, Onteora, Taconic (Massachusetts), Ichabod Crane and La Salle Institute.

Ortiz also competed last year as a sophomore for RCS, where her record was 7 wins and 10 losses.

The inaugural Girls Wrestling Individual Tournament was held at the SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College on Jan. 27 and drew wrestlers in 13 weight classes. The competition was hosted by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, or NYSPHSAA.

Girls’ wrestling is a fast-growing segment of the sport, according to NYSPHSAA.

“This is an exciting time for us as we host our first formal event for only girl wrestlers to compete in a statewide invitational tournament,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, executive director of NYSPHSAA. “There are nearly 1,000 girls competing on girls’ wrestling teams across the state and we’re pleased to be able to have an event to showcase them on Jan. 27. We are hopeful this will develop into a state championship in the near future.”

Ortiz celebrates on the sidelines. Gina Pelletier/For Capital Region Independent Media

Ortiz was one of 456 female wrestlers statewide who expressed interest in competing in the Syracuse competition, and only 208 were selected.

In addition to scrapping on the wrestling mat, Ortiz also showcases her talents in a very different way — as a singer. She was selected this school year to be a member of the 2023 National Association for Music Education’s All-Eastern Division Conference, as a member of the Treble Choir.

In December she also traveled to Rochester to participate in the New York State School Music Association Conference All-State Festival as a member of the Mixed Chorus.

In April, she will again travel to Rochester to perform at the Eastman Theater for the All-Eastern Conference.

As accomplished as Ortiz is on the scrapping mat, she is also making her mark on the music world.

“[Alivia] is extraordinarily musically talented, but it is her countless hours of hard work and dedication throughout the years that have provided her with this amazing opportunity,” Michelle McLoughlin, RCS High School Choral Director and K-12 Art and Music Curriculum Content Specialist, said. “We are incredibly proud of her.”

For more photos of the Girls Wrestling Individual Tournament:

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