Snyder solidifies high school wrestling career with state placing

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published March 18, 2024

 Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Julia Snyder earns seventh at the MHSAA individual wrestling state finals.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Julia Snyder earns seventh at the MHSAA individual wrestling state finals.

Photo provided by Nick Bowers


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Don’t let the smell of perfume or the bright smiles fool you when you step into the gymnasium.

Girls across the state of Michigan have displayed fierceness and competitiveness in wrestling, whether it’s facing the boys in a co-ed match or going head-to-head with another girl.

Since the Michigan High School Athletic Association added a girls only wrestling division for the 2021-2022 season, numbers have grown exponentially for numerous high schools across the state.

Girls have been wrestling for decades at the high school level, in small numbers, but this was the first opportunity where girls were prioritized in the sport of wrestling.

In its first year, nearly 400 girls wrestled in the regional meet, which was split up into just two regions prior to the state meet.

Now holding four regions consisting of nearly 800 wrestlers, and over 1,000 who competed this year in meets across the state, there’s hopes of potentially holding district meets, — like the boys side does — next year because of the increasing numbers.

“It’s (numbers) almost tripled since last year,” Birmingham Groves wrestling coach Joseph Jones said. “It’s growing really, really fast.”

Jones and Groves were the host of the first tri-county all-girls wrestling meet as schools from Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties went head-to-head. Local all-girls tournaments are becoming more and more popular in the surrounding counties, whereas past years saw teams traveling two or three hours in order to compete.

The majority are learning the sport in high school, and some have seen siblings compete, but the one thing they all share is the love and passion for it.

As all-girls tournaments become more common, longtime coaches such as Warren Mott’s Paul Salyers, an assistant coach on the boys side and Motts’ girls head coach this past year, are still getting used to the environment.

“You go into a wrestling gym where a boys tournament is being held, and oh, my God does it stink,” Salyers said. “There’s BO (body odor) everywhere. You go into a girls tournament and it’s a cacophony of perfume. It’s hilarious to me. The girls will get down after beating the crap out of another girl, and with boys, they’ll get done and they’re strutting around like they’re the king, but the girls will get done, get their hand raised and go over and hug the girl they just beat up on and go, ‘Honey, this is what you need to do next time, because I was able to do this because you were doing this wrong.’ It’s just funny. You don’t see that with the boys.”

As more girls continue to join, local teams are wishing upon a star that the popularity of wrestling and the success of their current girl wrestlers are signs of more wrestlers to come.


Clinton Township Chippewa Valley

After compiling an impressive list of accomplishments throughout her high school wrestling career for the Big Reds, senior Julia Snyder capped off her season the only way she knew how — at the Michigan High School Athletic Association state finals.

On March 2 at Ford Field, Snyder, who tallied 18 wins this year, went 3-2 during the state finals to place seventh in the 100-pound weight class, becoming the third female wrestler in school history to place at states.

“Her placing was her mental toughness, and I think that’s where she separated herself from the other girls where it was like, ‘I can do anything and there’s nothing I can’t overcome,’” Chippewa Valley head coach Nick Bowers said. “That was infectious with the rest of the team.”

A team captain for the Big Reds, Snyder has been one of the pioneers of female wrestling in Macomb County as a three-time state qualifier and the first Macomb County champion in the 100-pound weight class last year.

As a sport that’s been dominated by male wrestlers, the girls side continues to grow in numbers and is likely to continue seeing an upward trend with the help of wrestlers like Snyder, who leave an impact in their school for wrestlers to follow.

Sophomore Bridget Maas will be the lone female wrestler returning for Chippewa Valley next year after earning 10 wins this season.