3 women wrestlers from NJCU head to national championship

JERSEY CITY (WABC) -- Wrestling is booming in New Jersey, but until recently, there were barriers to the sport.

But, each time the young women hit the mat, they represent the new heights that New Jersey City University has taken women's wrestling in the state.

"We are the first women's team in New Jersey," said Elena Pirozhkova, NJCU Women's Wrestling Head Coach.

It is a rarity at the college level.

"As soon as the opportunity came up for us to sponsor a men's team, it was an absolute no brainer to start a women's team," said Danielle Beam, Associate Director of Athletics, NJCU.

The team is giving local women like Sandy Guerrero an opportunity to continue in the sport.

"I really wanted to stay in-state, so once I saw NJCU, I had to do it," Guerrero said.

Both the men's and women's teams started in 2019.

The old equipment room is now their place to perfect takedowns.

The pandemic delayed the women's debut last fall. There are many restrictions.

"How much time we can spend on the mat, if we can get on the mat," said Johnae Drumright, wrestler.

It made it a lot harder to practice, with little chance to compete this year.

"We've only had one tournament which was our region qualifier," Guerrero said.

The ladies are giving it all they've got in preparation for the National Collegiate Women's Wrestling Championship.

Guerrero and Drumright both qualified. Win or lose, they'll make history as the first college team from New Jersey to compete for the title.

This is the first year the students have help though, from their two-time United States Olympian coach.

"Every girl is not going to be an Olympian, but I have enough experience to guide them to the championships and beyond," Pirozhkova said.

The three women from New Jersey City University will compete for the national title on March 6th at Tiffin University in Ohio.

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