By Loyd McIntosh, Sports Editor
TRUSSVILLE — Hewitt-Trussville sophomore Katherine Grigsby made history becoming the first female to compete and win a wrestling match in the history of the Husky wrestling program on Saturday, Nov. 19.
Grigsby pinned Janiah Wilson from Mae Jemison High School in the 120-pound girls division at the 2:55 mark in her first match, earning her first win during the Hewitt-Trussville Early Season Duals Meet held at Brant Bank Arena.
“I’m really excited. I’m just really pumped up for this moment,” said Grigsby, grinning from ear to ear and breathing heavily as much from excitement over the moment as from physical exertion. “I’m exhausted but really excited that I got a pin in my first match.”
Grigsby went on to win in her second match later in the morning, pinning Zalaya Maddox, also from Mae Jemison, at the 1:34 mark, improving to 2-0 early in the 2022-23 season.
Now in his third season as Head Varsity Wrestling Coach, Chris Pike said Grigsby has fit right in with the team, learning the ropes from her peers and exhibiting positive characteristics Pike expects out of his athletes.
“She works really hard in the room, so we’re really happy to have her and all of the guys have really supported her,” Pike said. “Katherine is a really good girl. She’s very well-rounded and a very sweet, humble person.”
Well-rounded is an apt description for the 16-year-old Grigsby. She is also a member of the Hewitt-Trussville band’s wind ensemble and is on the Highsteppers dance team. However, Grigsby is perhaps best known for being active on the pageant circuit and was crowned Miss Junior Teen United States in Memphis, Tennessee, in mid-October.
Grigsby may be a beauty pageant queen in her own time, but when she’s on the mat, she’s in full wrestling mode, trading the gowns and tiaras for a wrestling singlet and headgear, earning the respect of her coach and teammates in the process.
“We treat her no different than we do the other guys on the team because she’s just part of our family. That’s the way we look at it. We’re happy for her and excited for her to get her first win and for the program’s first-ever female win. Couldn’t happen to a better girl.”
A handful of Hewitt wrestlers crowded around mat #3 shouting encouragement and offering instruction during Grigsby’s history-making matches.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Tucker Rudick, a junior wrestling in the 170-pound weight class. “She’s looking great. We’re excited to see how she’s going to do the rest of the season.”
Grigsby’s parents, Angela and Kevin Grigsby, said their emotions watching their daughter competing in a male-dominated contact sport run the gamut from a hefty dose of fear to admiration. The Grigsbys’ son, Stephen, competed in wrestling for several years during middle school before walking away from the sport after an opponent suffered a serious injury during a match.
For Katherine’s parents, watching their daughter take to the mat for the first time was difficult but their worries quickly faded as they watched her win her first match and enjoy being part of a team that has quickly accepted her as one of them.
“It was very hard to watch our daughter wrestle, but it was also challenging to watch our son wrestle,” said Kevin Grigsby. “In wrestling, it’s just you and your opponent. You don’t have the opportunity to pass the ball to someone else. The success when you’re on the mat is up to you.”
“I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect because it was her first match, but she was excited about it,” said Angela Grigsby. “She comes every night and she’s excited.”
Despite their initial apprehension, the Grigsbys said they have been awed and are thankful for the support that Katherine has received from the team and Coach Pike.
“He seems energized by this,” Kevin added. “There was a line of teammates cheering her on and coaching her up. It’s a humbling experience. I’m happy for her, I hope she continues to find success, and I’m thankful that she’ll continue to be challenged by Coach Pike.”