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Girls wrestling steps into the spotlight

The girls individual tournament will be held in conjunction with the boys tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

NORTHFIELD, Minn. — Ella Pagel is one of the top female wrestlers in the country and on Saturday she'll be wrestling in the first Minnesota girls high school wrestling tournament.

"It's awesome! I mean it's mind blowing that we finally got to this point. I've been wrestling boys my whole life and never saw wrestling my own gender in the future but now it's here," Pagel said.

The Northfield freshman has spent the season wrestling against boys in the 160-pound weight class where she compiled a 27-8 record but will move to the 165-pound division for girls wrestling.  

Pagel didn't wrestle any girls until sections where she went 2-0 to advance to the state meet. Her teammate, Lainey Houts will be participating in the 145- pound weight class.

Credit: Chasidy Pagel

"It's pretty exciting and the sport will only grow after this when girls can come out and wrestle other girls and not just boys. Seeing how much it can grow across our state and the country will be amazing," she said.

Ella got involved in wrestling as a youngster after watching her older brother Mason compete. He's a senior at Northfield High School and will be competing in the boys tournament at 220 pounds.

Credit: Chasidy Pagel

"She's very knowledgeable of the sport. She's very good on her takedowns and she's a technician. She's not one of the bigger girls that goes out there and tries to overpower everybody," said Northfield wrestling coach Geoff Stabb.

"It's a mental game and I know that I can keep pushing and doing better. So, I stick with it," said Pagel.

Ella's wrestling season isn't over when the state tournament concludes on Saturday night. She will start preparing for national events with USA Wrestling that will keep her busy. 

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