IRON MOUNTAIN — Shayna Hruska accomplished what no other Upper Peninsula female wrestler had before, becoming the first girl to capture a title at the Upper Peninsula Wrestling Championships and being selected the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler in Marquette on Jan. 21.
The Iron Mountain junior has gone on to earn her second straight Mid-Peninsula Conference championship at Ishpeming on Feb. 4, gaining top honors at 106 pounds after winning at 103 a year ago.
The Mountaineers have since captured a Division 4 Team District title Wednesday night in a 49-27 defeat of Bark River-Harris. They host the Team Regional on Feb. 15.
They’re also entered in Saturday’s Individual District at Manistique. Hruska, however, elected to pass on the Individual District in favor of competing in the Girls Regional on Feb. 19 at Grayling or Cadillac.
Female wrestlers are allowed to wrestle the individual postseason beginning either with the District including boys competitors, or in the Girls Regional bracket that feeds into the Girls Individual Finals; both finish at Ford Field.
“Girls wrestling is growing, which makes for stronger competition,” she said. “I’m really grateful for my teammates and coaches because they push me to get better.
“Wrestling on a Sunday will be a little different, but I don’t think it will be too much of an adjustment. I just need to get plenty of rest and eat healthy.”
Hruska secured the U.P. title by taking an 8-2 decision from St. Ignace freshman Dalton Champion in the 106-pound final.
“I was really excited, but right now I’m working toward Regional and state tournaments” she said. “Wrestling against the boys prepares me a lot. They have a different technique. Every wrestler is different. Wrestling the boys is harder, but prepares you better.”
Iron Mountain is loaded with experienced standouts this season. Senior Shawn McGuire won last season’s Division 4 Finals championship at 119 pounds, and junior Tyler Winch was the runner-up at that weight. Senior Evan Haferkorn and juniors Fulton Stroud and Alex Wilson all placed at last season’s Finals as well.
Coach Cory McLaren said Hruska does plenty to bolster the lineup as well.
“We need her in our lineup,” he added. “People are recognizing her. We’re hoping she encourages other girls to try out. She has the fire and desire. She’s also growing and starting to get longer.”
Hruska became interested in wrestling when she was in third grade.
“I wanted to join wrestling and brought home a permission slip,” she said. “My parents tried to discourage me because they didn’t think I’d like it, then I brought home another permission slip and they signed it. They’ve learned to enjoy it and really loved wrestling since I went out. I’ve improved a lot. I used to be real nervous and would sometimes get sick, but I’ve learned to overcome that.”
A week before the M-PC meet, Hruska was runner-up by one point in a tournament at Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
“I was on top trying to score and ran out of time,” she said. “I’ve learned to take it one match at a time and never underestimate anybody.”
Iron Mountain placed fourth among 21 teams at Sturgeon Bay prior to retaining the league title a few days later.
“That was a tough tournament,” said McLaren. “There was very strong competition down there. We had some kids out with the flu, but it was still a real good experience for us.”
John Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.
PHOTO Iron Mountain’s winners at the U.P. Championships at Marquette hold up their charts, from left: Evan Haferkorn, Fulton Stroud, Shawn McGuire, Alex Wilson and Shayna Hruska. (Photo courtesy of the Iron Mountain wrestling program.)