Duanesburg/Schoharie’s Lints ready for inaugural NYSPHSAA girls’ wrestling tournament

Duanesburg/Schoharie wrestler Zoey Lints spars with Scott Nicolella during practice on Tuesday at Duanesburg High School in Delanson.

Duanesburg/Schoharie wrestler Zoey Lints spars with Scott Nicolella during practice on Tuesday at Duanesburg High School in Delanson.

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DELANSON — Zoey Lints spent hours upon hours on the edge of a wrestling mat as a little kid, watching her two older brothers, Austin and Jesse, as they practiced.

One day, when she was still in second grade, Zoey decided it was her turn.

“I just went in there to warm up,” Zoey Lints said, “and I just started wrestling.”

That was 10 years ago. Immediately hooked by the sport, Lints has dedicated herself to wrestling ever since, and on Friday, the Schoharie High School senior who wrestles on the merged Duanesburg/Schoharie team will head to SRC Arena in Syracuse for the inaugural NYSPHSAA Girls’ Wrestling Invitational.

Friday’s tournament isn’t a full state championship, as girls’ wrestling is making its NYSPHSAA debut under “emerging sport” status this winter, but it will be the biggest showcase ever in New York for a fast-growing high school sport that, as of this winter, has sanctioned state championships in 37 of 50 states.

For Zoey Lints, it was an opportunity she wasn’t sure would ever come around.

“It’s really awesome,” she said. “I’ve been working on getting to boys’ states, but it’s really hard to get there. So, going to girls’ states means a lot.”

Lints and Duanesburg/Schoharie teammate Caroline Ash will both be competing at Friday’s tournament. The duo have gone back-and-forth this season between wrestling dual meets and some tournaments on the boys’ team — there are a dozen girls’ wrestling teams in Section II competing for the first time this winter, but Duanesburg/Schoharie currently only offers a boys’ team — while heading out to some girls’ tournaments for individual accolades.

That was the case this past Saturday, as while Duanesburg/Schoharie hosted its Dominick Kossman Memorial Duals, Lints and Ash were at Shaker to compete in girls’ divisions at the King and Queen Bison Invitational.

Lints, who is No. 13 in January’s USA Wrestling national high school rankings at 144 pounds, powered to the 145-pound championship, winning all four of her matches by pin in less than a minute.

“It was pretty different from other tournaments I’ve gone to,” Lints said. “None of my matches lasted longer than, like, 50 seconds. Normally, they go six minutes, but I was just more experienced than most of them.”

“We debated whether to keep her here for our boys’ tournament and get her ready for this weekend,” Duanesburg/Schoharie head coach Ryan Patrie said. “It’s nice to be able to send her to these girls’ events so that she has her time to shine, because she’s worked hard the past few years.”

Lints, a varsity wrestler since she was in eighth grade, took her lumps wrestling against boys earlier in her career, but credits those experiences for molding her into the wrestler that she is today.

“I think wrestling boys made me a lot better at wrestling girls, because most girls just wrestle other girls,” she said. “They don’t really get that aggressiveness that I do when I go against boys.”

“It’s definitely an advantage,” Patrie said.

Lints is part of a program that brings together two schools that hold significant parts of Section II girls’ wrestling history. Duanesburg boasts the first female wrestler in New York to win a sectional title in Amy Whitbeck — now Amy Golding — who won back-to-back area crowns in 2006 and 2007. Schoharie’s wrestling program never had a single representative at the state championships, male or female, until Alexis Bleau made history in 2012 when she received an at-large berth to the tournament.

This winter, it’s girls’ grapplers like Lints who are making history.

Coxsackie-Athens head coach Ryan Palmer, the coordinator for girls’ wrestling in Section II, has been thrilled to see the progress the sport has made this winter. It’s leaps and bounds from just a year ago, when Palmer hosted the area’s first scholastic girls’ tournament.

“It’s been a giant step forward. I think in Section II, we’ve done a stellar job at really kind of pushing it to that next level,” Palmer said. “We needed six teams [for emerging sport status], and I think Section II’s up to 12 now. We’ve got 150-plus girls certified in Section II, which is incredible.”

For Lints, it’s been a long, exciting journey since finally stepping onto the mat to join her older brothers.

“Yeah, I can’t really believe that there’s a state tournament right now,” she said. “I grew up watching my brothers and there was always, like, one girl per tournament. Now, I see so many girls.”

The 35 Section II competitors confirmed to compete in the NYSPHSAA Girls’ Wrestling Invitational:

94: Madeline Paulis, Salem/Cambridge

100: Makenna Hoffman, Shaker; Kalissa Albright, Niskayuna’/Schenectady

107: Grace York, Warrensburg/Lake George; Ishita Singh, Shenendehowa; Makayla Matson, Niskayuna/Schenectady

114: Cailan Drake, Shaker; Caroline Ash, Duanesburg/Schoharie; Allison Hancher, Shenendehowa

120: Bella Salatino, Columbia; Trista Polsinello, Shaker; Delaney Bisaillon, Mechanicville/Stillwater

126: Evynne Farrel, Colonie; Jasa Cruz, Coxsackie-Athens; Maryanne Persad, Niskayuna/Schenectady

132: Ragan Retell, Tamarac; Mia Collins, Ballston Spa

138: Zoey Lints, Duanesburg/Schoharie; Aniella Kennedy, Guilderland; Alivia Ortiz, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk

145: Jaymie Landon, Granville; Helena Rodriguez, Rensselaer; Brooke Glaude, Shenendehowa; Ella Gregg, Niskayuna/Schenectady

152: Olivia Lapoint, Warrensburg/Lake George; Isabella Gretzinger, Shenendehowa; Elizabeth Williamson, Shaker; Anecia Singh, Niskayuna/Schenectady

165: Tallulah Powers, Berlin/New Lebanon; Freya Hoech, Shenendehowa; Elle Hutton, Columbia

185: Julia Urban, Shenendehowa; Faith Cook, Granville

235: Brianna Newton, Niskayuna/Schenectady; Kalyn Gould, Granville

Categories: High School Sports, Rotterdam, Sports, Sports

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