by Martin McConnell
Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School wrestler Anna Madi is blazing trails for Bees of future generations. The freshman girl is one of the storied program’s best wrestlers this season, and recently finished as a placer at the Hawken Varsity Tournament this past December.
Madi wrestled for Brecksville’s middle school program in 2021, before moving up to the high school level. According to BBHHS wrestling coach Todd Haverdill, Madi is not the first female wrestler to attend the school. However, she is already on track to be one of the best.
“She practices with the boys because she’s the only girl,” Haverdill said. “However, women’s wrestling is the fastest growing sport in the country right now. … It’s a movement that’s coming. Numerous schools have gotten on board and assigned a women’s coach.”
Haverdill explained that with how fast the sport is growing in the United States, it was only a matter of time until it became sanctioned by the OHSAA. When the sport became official in early 2022, it may have helped convince Madi to keep pursuing the sport.
“We had one young lady in the past,” Haverdill said. “Anna wrestled for our program for the first time last year as an eighth grader. She was involved in our offseason program. When [the OHSAA] sanctioned it, I think that convinced her to continue the sport in high school.”
The sanctioning, Haverdill explained, gave Madi the boost she needed to pursue wrestling in high school. If not for the recent growth of women’s amateur wrestling, it is unlikely she would have held the same interest.
“I’m not so sure that Anna was going to wrestle in high school, if she was going to have to wrestle all boys,” he said. “It’s hard for a young lady to compete with just men at this age, because of just physical strength. There’s a concern of injury, but in terms of training, technique, it’s all very similar.”
Madi’s placing at the Hawken Varsity Tournament late last year set the tone for both her performances, and those who will come after her at the school. Haverdill expressed major pride in the young prospect.
“We entered her week one, into a boys’ varsity tournament,” he said. “That’s the first time that’s ever happened in our program. The top six finishers get an award, and she finished in the top six.”
Haverdill and the coaching staff believe Madi can be the trailblazer for the Bees when it comes to girls’ wrestling. As a freshman, she still has room to grow into a dominant force on the mat, even more than she already is.
“I think that we got a special one to start. She’s not the norm,” Haverdill said. “For a young lady to be able to compete against boys and win, and the couple of girl events that we’ve put her in, she’s kind of torching the field. … We got lucky to kickstart this thing with somebody like Anna.” ∞