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Female wrestlers finish big to end their high school careers

By Nathan Fox Special to the Daily Planet
Tuesday March 26, 2002

Wrestlers Christie Ravera and Regina Alexander wrapped up their Berkeley High careers in high style this weekend, finishing second and sixth in the nation at the United States Girls’ Wrestling Association high school tournament held in Lake Orion, Mich. 

Ravera, two-time California state champion, earned herself a national title shot on Sunday with a 4-1 semifinal win against Siobhan Bower, of New York. But she faced an uphill battle in the 134-pound championship match against East Detroit’s Brandi Rosenbrock. Rosenbrock, a junior, had won the national tournament two times — the first time as an eighth grader — and had barreled through the quarter- and semi-finals with first-round pins before meeting Ravera. 

“I was pretty sure [coach Hugh Johnson] thought I wasn’t going to make it out of the first round against her,” Ravera said. “She’s an incredible wrestler.” 

Ravera managed to give Rosenbrock a battle, however, and for two rounds Ravera controlled the pace of the action, if not the score, with a complement of strong defensive moves. Rosenbrock was ahead 19-3 with .6 seconds remaining in the second round when she finally pinned Ravera for her third national title. 

“I got beat really badly,” laughed Ravera. “I couldn’t do any moves on her. At one point I had a single-leg hold, was driving into her, and thought I was going to knock her on her butt — but she immediately adjusted. That was the only time I even came close.” 

Alexander also fared well at the tournament, finishing sixth at 126 pounds. Alexander lost her morning semifinal match to team Hawaii’s Jennifer Miyahira by technical fall. 

“The girls out there today were real good,” said Alexander, also a senior. “I mean Hawaii — I think their whole team is, like, judo champion or something.” 

Alexander is sixth in the nation in her weight class — in her first year wrestling. 

“Regina picked it up as a novice this year,” Johnson said. “She worked very hard — she perfected just a few moves, and they worked for her at the elite level of high school girls wrestling.” 

Alexander and Ravera, second and sixth in the nation in their respective weight classes, will both now take a break from wrestling. 

“Part of it has to do with limited opportunities in colleges that they want to go to,” Johnson said. “They’re more focused on their academic future. If there were college programs at the schools they wanted to attend, they might consider competing.”  

Currently, the USGWA Web site lists only six colleges in the nation which boast an intercollegiate women’s wrestling program: University of Minnesota-Morris, Missouri Valley College, Cumberland College (Williamsburg, Kentucky), Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon), Neosho County Community College (Chanute, Kansas) and Menlo College (Atherton). 

It’s not surprising that Ravera and Alexander will be choosing a school outside of that limited list. Ravera is headed to either UC Santa Cruz or to the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Alexander will be attending either San Jose State or Fullerton State. 

“Most of the colleges that have it aren’t the type of places that I’d want to go,” Ravera said. “I’m actually looking forward to taking a break from training for a while.” 

Of course, “taking a break from training” is a relative term when it comes from the mouth of an elite wrestler. Ravera will continue to pursue competitive kickboxing, as well as her ongoing training to be a Kung-Fu teacher. Alexander, meanwhile, intends to play club-level rugby wherever she ends up, and will consider wrestling at the club level as well. 

“I think it will happen someday,” said Johnson of the proliferation of intercollegiate wrestling programs for girls. “But it will take a while.”