Warren Mott’s female wrestlers celebrate the wrestling team’s regional championship  on Feb. 14 at Fraser High School.

Warren Mott’s female wrestlers celebrate the wrestling team’s regional championship on Feb. 14 at Fraser High School.

Photo provided by Nolan McPartlin

State placer, dominant core stamp season for Mott girls wrestling

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Warren Weekly | Published March 15, 2024

 Warren Mott girls head coach Paul Salyers, left, and  coach Jeff Pruitt, right, stand with Warren Mott junior Megan Melnyk, who placed eighth at the  MHSAA state finals on March 2 at Ford Field.

Warren Mott girls head coach Paul Salyers, left, and coach Jeff Pruitt, right, stand with Warren Mott junior Megan Melnyk, who placed eighth at the MHSAA state finals on March 2 at Ford Field.

Photo provided by Nolan McPartlin


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

Whether it’s facing the boys in a coed match or going head-to-head with another girl, there’s nothing ladylike about the fierceness and competitiveness girls across the state of Michigan have displayed with their wrestling ability at the high school level.

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 into just two regions prior to the state meet.

Now holding four regions consisting of nearly 800 wrestlers, and over 1,000 that 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 hosted the first tri-county all-girls wrestling meet as schools from Wayne, Macomb and Oakland County 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. 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 Mott’s 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.


Warren Mott
Warren Mott gained substantial traction on the boys side for an incredible season, but the girls showed that they’re right on par with their abilities.

Led by a veteran group of senior Aria Sayajon, junior Makayla Perdue-Daniels, and junior Megan Melnyk, Mott continued its reign of success in the girls division over the past three seasons.

It all started with Hannah Palise, a 2022 graduate who wrestled her way to a state championship in the 125-pound weight class in the first-ever girls state finals event.

Without knowing it, Palise’s historic achievement has had a trickle-down effect ever since and is a key reason why Mott girls wrestling is in its current state right now.

“Hannah’s success breeds other girls coming in, and we did what we could to encourage that,” Salyers said. “That included putting a banner of Hannah’s state finals up in the gym and we had Hannah come to all of the showcase events where the eighth graders see what they wanted to do.”

Salyers, who coached the Mott boys team for over 20 years, has had a state finals placer for the past three seasons on the girls side, and Melnyk kept the streak alive on March 2 at Ford Field. Perdue-Daniels, a Macomb County champion this year, defeated Melnyk in the third-place match at regionals, qualifying both for states.

“It (states) was nerve-wracking,” Perdue-Daniels said. “I was very nervous. Even if it was my second time going, I was still nervous.”

Perdue-Daniels was no stranger to the spotlight, earning sixth at the state finals last year. This year, it was Melnyk’s turn to join the already well-established list of state placers for Mott, earning eighth.

“Honestly, I just had fun the whole time,” Melnyk said. “I wasn’t concerned with how good I was going to wrestle or if I was going to win or lose. I was just having fun.”

Sayajon, a Macomb County champion this year, and Melnyk are only three years into the sport of wrestling, but they’re already noticing an impact it has had on them.

“For me, it would definitely be confidence, especially knowing that I can do this,” Sayajon said. “When something gets tough, I think, ‘Oh, I wrestle. This is nothing.’” When I’m doing something tough that’s physically demanding, I just think about how wrestling is so much tougher than this.”

Sayajon (23-10), Perdue-Daniels (18-11), and Melnyk (22-11) led the way for Mott in wins this season, but there were no shortage of contributors for a Mott team holding nine girls on the roster, the largest group in school history.

Senior Julia Karczmarczyk, junior Lindsey Ng, junior Juyoung Lee, sophomore Claira Taylor, sophomore Nanette Dawood, and freshman Chloe Nguyen all made contributions this year for the Marauders.

Even if it wasn’t on the mat, they were vital to the team’s morale, doing everything they could to make girls wrestling an enjoyable environment.

“Compared to previous years, the numbers in the sport have grown tremendously and the competition is getting tougher too,” Sayajon said. “It’s super exciting to see how big the sport is getting on the girls side.”