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Brigitte Smyth: Gilbert Yellowjacket Wrestling Standout. A Story by Gerry deSimas.

POSTED July 05, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney



Brigitte Smyth: Gilbert Yellowjacket Wrestling Standout. A Story by Gerry deSimas.

By GERRY deSIMAS, JR.
Connecticut Wrestling Online
 
It could have been an awkward situation.
 
Winsted’s Brigitte Smyth, the co-captain on The Gilbert School wrestling team,
had spent most of her three-year career with the Yellowjackets wrestling at 112
pounds. Josh Hoxie, a good friend and teammate, spent most of the season at 103
pounds – but not enough time. In final weeks of the season, it became clear that
Hoxie  wouldn’t be able to get enough weigh-ins at 103 pounds to qualify to
compete in that weight class. Hoxie needed to successfully weigh in at 103 in 33
percent of his varsity matches to qualify.
 
Gilbert coach Doug Smith and his assistant coach Dan Langer sat down with Hoxie
and Smyth and explained the situation. The previous year he won the Class S
title at 103. Just a few days earlier, Hoxie wrestled at 119 pounds and finished
fourth in the Berkshire League tournament. His best chance to win another state
championship was at 112 pounds.
 
Smith didn’t dictate terms and let the two friends discuss the situation.
Brigitte made the call. She would wrestle at 119 pounds -- a distinct
disadvantage to one of the few girls participating in varsity wrestling in
Connecticut. “If I’m wrestling a boy and he is stronger than me, then I’m really
out of luck,” Smyth said.
 
Hoxie wrestled at 112 and was superb, winning his second straight Class S
championship. Smyth won one match at 119 pounds but she knew another opportunity
was waiting for her.
 
Less than a month later, Smyth won a United State Girls Wrestling Association
(USGWA) New England championship at 115 pounds. Smyth followed that triumph
three weeks later by earning All-American honors by finishing third at the USGWA
national championships in Michigan at 112 pounds. She is the first Gilbert
wrestler to earn All-American honors.
 
Smyth went 5-2 at the national tournament, sparked by a win by technical fall
(15 points or more) over Angela Kindig of Virginia in her first match of the
tournament. “That gave me the confidence that I could do well,” Smyth said. She
followed that with a win by pin and three victories by two points or less.At the
New England tournament in Nashua, Smyth went 4-0 with three pins, including a
victory in 3:57 over Alyssa Soucy of Chelmsford, Mass., who finished second in
the round-robin event.
 
“That was my state tournament,” Smyth said. Smith and Langer promised to support
Smyth at the New England tournament and traveled to Nashua, N.H., to support her
in person. “That really meant a lot to me,” Smyth said.
 
In her high school career with the Yellowjackets, Smyth had 50 wins in three
seasons, including two wins in the Class S tournament. She was second in the
Berkshire League tournament at 112 as a junior, dropping a two-point decision in
overtime.
 
“She was the only girl on the team but she didn’t want to be treated any
differently than any other wrestler,” Smith said. “She is a competitor by nature
and she just wanted to prove herself.”
 
Off-season wrestling with Northeast Elite in Enfield and the Golden Knights
wrestling club in Thomaston has helped by providing Smyth with additional
experience and opportunities.
 
There were times that boys simply overpowered Smyth with their physical
strength. But when wrestling girls, the playing field was level, she said. “I
think what it comes down to your experience,” Smyth said. “And you can’t be
intimidated by someone who has more experience that you.”
 
Smyth will be attending SpringfieldCollege this fall, a school isn’t among the
12 schools with a separate women’s collegiate wrestling program. And the
lightest weight in collegiate men’s wrestling is 125 pounds.
 
Smyth wants to continue keeping wrestling a part of her life but hasn’t
determined how to do that. In recent months, she has been a volunteer with the
Golden Knights, helping the younger members of the club, including a handful of
girls. She is looking forward to continuing to work out at Northeast Elite.

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