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One on One: Bald Eagle Wrestling State Champion Grace Stem

Editor’s Notes: Recently Hometown Sports Editor and Chief Kenny Varner caught up with Bald Eagle Area State Champion wrestler Grace Stem. We talked about her winning the State Title, her career, her start and her future in wrestling.

HS: How did it feel when you captured the State Title?

GS: Winning the state title was a great feeling. I am just so thankful to have had that opportunity. 

HS: How nervous were you going into the final match up?

GS: I’m always nervous before I wrestle, but I knew I had to trust in my training. I just told myself that if I wrestled with 100% effort it didn’t matter if I won or lost, because the only thing that’s important is to leave it all on the mat. 

HS: Despite being a shortened year for wrestling, how did you think your regular season went?

GS: To be honest, I didn’t have much of a regular season this year. We got off to a late start, and I only wrestled in a few dual meets. Despite that, I’m looking forward to next year’s season with the boys. 

HS: How long have you been wrestling?

GS: This is my 4th year wrestling.

HS: How did you get started?

GS: My family has always been a fan of wrestling, so I grew up going to rec hall and watching Penn State out there on the mat. When I was in fourth grade I wrestled for a few practices, in my first match I broke my arm and it took many years to convince my parents to let me wrestle again. 

HS: What would you say is your favorite move?

GS: When I first started wrestling I really relied on the fireman’s carry a lot, but it’s easy to get stuck down there sometimes. My favorite thing to rely on now in a match is just a simple snap down to an arm drag or high crotch. There’s little risk involved, and if you hit it right it can be really effective. 

HS: How does it feel to be a role model for younger girls that are starting out in your sport?

GS: It makes me so happy to be able to set an example for other girls wanting to wrestle or that are just starting out. I hope that I can encourage them to have confidence in their wrestling and show others what they can do. 

HS: Since you started wrestling, what have you thought about the growth of female wrestling? It seems to be booming with popularity.

GS: When I first began wrestling there weren’t many other girls locally. However, I’ve noticed more recently that it’s rapidly increasing. This is really exciting; I love to see girls go out there and give it their all and show everybody that girls can wrestle too. I’m actually hoping to start a girls team at my high school, BEA, in hopes of contributing to the growth of the sport as much as possible. 

HS: Who got you started in wrestling?

GS: I owe all the credit to my dad, John Stem, along with the rest of the people supporting me, for guiding me along the way and pushing me to be my very best. I wouldn’t have started wrestling if it weren’t for my dad. 

HS: Do you plan on continuing your career after high school? If so, do you have any colleges in mind?

GS: I plan to wrestle at a collegiate level after high school, and eventually I hope to wrestle at an olympic level. As of right now, I’m not sure where I would like to go to college, but I have my eye on a few local schools. If Penn State were to open a women’s program that would be my dream school. 

HS: What advice would you give to younger wrestlers that are just starting out in your sport?

GS: For all the younger wrestlers just starting out, I would like to tell them you get out of it what you put into it, the harder you work the more success you will have.

HS: Growing up, did you have any wrestlers you looked up to or modeled yourself after?

GS: I was always a huge fan of the Penn State wrestlers growing up. I still am. The wrestlers like David Taylor, Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, Vincenzo Joseph, Mark Hall. They all set a good work ethic, positive attitude, and good mindset that I strive to follow. 

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