Wrestling is in her DNA. Her father, Chris Powell, the owner of CMP Wrestling in Powder Springs, has been coaching the sport for more than 30 years, and her little brother, Carlin, has been wrestling since he was 4.
Christy Powell, a senior, enjoys the demands the sport offers, which has led to her making a name for herself as part of the Hawks’ wrestling program.
“My dad and my brother really inspired me to wrestle,” Powell said. “Just being at (my brother’s) tournaments all of the time got me to go out there and start wrestling. I was in the fourth grade when I started, so this is my ninth year in the sport.
“It has it’s difficulties, especially since I’m mostly wrestling guys. But, it’s fun and I enjoy it.
“Wrestling is probably the toughest sport out there, but it’s great to get out there and wrestle. Sometimes I win and sometimes I lose.”
Powell, at 5-foot-2, has certainly had her fair share of victories. She came up through Hillgrove’s junior program, so it was an easy transition for her and the other members of the team because many of the boy wrestlers already knew who she was.
This season, Powell owns a 20-6 overall record, including 10 pins. She placed second at the MTXE Invitational at Lassiter two weeks ago, and on Saturday, finished fifth at the Parlay Invitational at Allatoona. Last year, Powell posted a record of 33-16.
Her coach, Luke McSorley, has been impressed with Powell’s growth over the years. With three years on the varsity team, she has proven that she can handle the rigors of the sport.
“She’s one of the hardest workers in the wrestling room,” McSorley said. “She’s also one of the hardest workers in the classroom too. Christy is incredibly disciplined, which is why she’s successful. She never stops.
“She got beat up a lot her first year and wrestled J.V. for us. She was light. She’s been on varsity for three years now and is solidly in as our 106-pounder. She has great technique. She lacks the kind of muscles and strength you might find in a guy at that weight class, but she has great technique, which helps her, as well as her mental focus, win a lot of matches.”
Powell’s brother, Carlin, who wrestles at 120 pounds, has also played a role in her success this year. The duo are often paired together during practice, allowing Carlin to add his years of knowledge to help his older sister.
“Carlin is a great wrestler,” Powell said. “The last four years he got second in the state in middle school wrestling. He’s been wrestling three more years than I have and now he’s a freshman this year on varsity, which is great. He’s my practice partner, and helps me and tells me what I’m doing wrong. He helps me improve on my moves and skills.”
Powell’s wrestling success continues an upward trend in the sport that has taken place over the years. According to a 2010-11 high school athletics participation survey released by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the number of girl wrestlers in high schools grew to 7,351 athletes, which was an increase of 1,217 wrestlers, or a 19.8 percent jump, from the previous year. This made girls wrestling the fastest growing sport for high school girls in terms of percentage increase.
The survey also noted that there were 206 more girls wrestling teams in 2010-11 for a total of 1,215 and a percentage gain of 20.4 percent.
Because the Georgia High School Association doesn’t yet sanction a girls state wrestling championship, Team Georgia, a USA Wrestling affiliated organization, created one two years ago. The tournament, which is held at Wheeler High School in March, offers girls an opportunity to compete for a state title, and Powell took advantage both times, becoming a two-time state champion amongst her peers.
“(The state championship) helps me see where I am with girls,” Powell said. “So, I’m really happy that both years that I’ve done it I’ve gotten first. I’ve even beaten girls who have traveled all over the world, so I’m really excited about that. That’s why I’m hoping to get a scholarship to college.
“I was really excited and I’m glad (Team Georgia) started it. To finally do something just for the girls so that we can match each other up and hopefully get more girls to come out and wrestle.”
A three-sport star with four varsity letters in cross country, three in wrestling and currently two in track and field, Powell has aspirations of earning a college wrestling scholarship.
The Women's College Wrestling Association, which began in 2008 and features freestyle wrestling, lists 14 members with women’s wrestling programs, while the National Collegiate Wrestling Association women’s division, which focuses on folkstyle wrestling, has 32 teams in its organization, including Middle Tennessee State, East Tennessee State and Mercer.
However, before Powell can earn that scholarship, she’s focusing on the year-end wrestling events in Georgia, including area duals and area traditional meets, the Cobb County Invitational and the state championship.
“I’m definitely expecting to place (at county) and hopefully take first,” she said. “I’ll go to region next and hopefully make it to state. Even if I don’t place, just going would be a great accomplishment for me.”
McSorley believes Powell has a good shot at reaching her goals.
“I think she can win region,” he said. “It will be tough, and it would be something if she does. She has a lot of work to do, but if she works hard, it can happen.”