West Virginia Wrestling


by Dr. Bill Welker

Amy Alvaro: Grappling toward Greatness

Amy, (right), with Coach Jamie Lesho

In 1998, Amy Alvaro accomplished the unimaginable by being the first female wrestler to qualify for the state championships in West Virginia. Many thought a girl had no place on the mats, especially against boys. Amy would hear none of it; not because she wanted to beat her male counterparts, but because she wanted to wrestle.

Alvaro's three-year career record was 31-42. At first glance that doesn't seem too impressive until you consider the fact that she beat 27 boys ... not bad. The other four wins were against female opponents at this year's 2nd Annual U.S. Girls Wrestling Association (USGWA) National Championships ... and Amy placed third!

The 1999 USGWA nationals were held at Lake Orion High School in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Amy Alvaro was in a field of nearly 25 outstanding female wrestlers from across the country at the 118-pound weight class. After winning her first round match, Alvaro's only defeat in the tourney came at the hands of Shelley Ann Tomita of Hawaii by an overtime decision of 4-2. Ironically, Amy Alvaro pinned Tomita in her final match of the competition to place third.

Throughout the three-day event, Alvaro wrestled opponents from California, Virginia, Hawaii, and Virginia. A senior at Weirton Madonna High School (Weirton, West Virginia), Amy's scholastic coach, Jamie Lesho, guided her throughout the competition. He considers Alvaro to be one of the most dedicated wrestlers he has ever had the privilege to mentor.

A National Honor Society student with a grade point average of 3.75, Amy Alvaro is set to attend West Virginia University. She plans to major in exercise physiology. As far as continuing to wrestle, she may compete in future collegiate women's open tournaments, but her freshman year at WVU will be dedicated completely to academics.

As one who had the pleasure of officiating a number of Amy Alvaro's matches during her high school tenure, yours truly was deeply impressed with her sportsmanship demeanor--win or lose--as well as her competitive intensity. She was highly respected by all her opponents, both male and female.

Amy Alvaro, the All-American wrestler, will succeed in life because of her "All-American" spirit to achieve. I am proud to have known her!

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