CROWN POINT — Rianne Murphy is back in the area for a reason: the Crown Point junior wants to be a better wrestler.
“If I have the chance to train with boys who are bigger than me and stronger than me. When I go to see girls, even when I compete at the national level, I don’t feel dominated or intimidated by the atmosphere,” Murphy said. “Hopefully that’s the added edge, the little boost I want to see in my performance.”
Murphy is originally from Valparaiso but attended Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania — a prep school and national wrestling powerhouse — for the past two years. The distinctions already to his credit are numerous.
She won gold medals at the U15 Pan American Championships last year and in 2019. She won the Cadet 100-pound title at the USA National Wrestling Championships in Fargo over the summer. These are just the first lines of a long CV.
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At Crown Point, she will wrestle boys and girls, competing for the 106-pound spot in a nationally ranked Bulldogs roster full of Division I athletes. The fights are still about a week away.
“It was pretty much ‘Is this where I see myself growing the most?’ Both (Crown Point and Wyoming Seminary) are great options, but I wanted to give this place a shot,” Murphy said. “I know the coaches (Crown Point). I was 8. They believed in me when I was nobody.
Murphy was a finalist in the USA Cadet World Team Trials last year, losing two of three matches to Ava Ward of Missouri at 46 kilograms. She also failed in the Junior division at Fargo.
Coming up short in these events is what drives her. That’s why she’s in the Bulldogs wrestling room.
“I feel like I could have done more or I could have done more,” she said. “I wanted a change, more personal coaching where I would be close to home and my parents could keep an eye on me. I saw an opportunity at Crown Point.
A big part of that opportunity is the ability to become more self-sufficient. In Pennsylvania, Murphy had someone watching his diet and workout schedule. She wants to be able to take control of these things herself.
The chance to wrestle boys every day also holds her accountable on the mat, where she said she couldn’t take a lazy hit or cut corners against a stronger opponent.
“I want to compete in college and beyond, so it’s important for me to lay the groundwork now,” Murphy said. “If I want to see results beyond what I’ve already achieved, I need that personal growth.”
The IHSAA has designated girls wrestling as an “emerging sport” in the spring. There won’t be a postseason until 50% of schools add the sport, but it will be state-governed. Indiana High School Girls Wrestling will still host a state championship in January. Murphy plans to compete and said she is excited about the future of women’s wrestling in Indiana.
Crown Point trainer Branden Lorek says Murphy is here to win IHSAA titles, which would mean becoming the state’s first women’s wrestling champion.
“Freestyle wrestling is where my long term goals are. This is where women’s wrestling is in college and beyond. But I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t enjoy (an IHSAA credential),” Murphy said. “That would mean a lot to me.”
PHOTOS: Crown Point Wrestling Section