Bracetti girl could change Catholic League wrestling rule
Mariana Bracetti freshman Tatyana Ortiz may have inadvertently wrestled a Catholic League rule to its knees. A 5-foot-4, 106-pound freshman wrestler, she is scheduled to compete Saturday in the District 12 Class AAA individual tournament at Archbishop Carroll High.
Mariana Bracetti freshman Tatyana Ortiz may have inadvertently wrestled a Catholic League rule to its knees.
A 5-foot-4, 106-pound freshman wrestler, she is scheduled to compete Saturday in the District 12 Class AAA individual tournament at Archbishop Carroll High.
Ortiz, the eighth seed, is slated to face top-seeded Father Judge senior Tim McCall, who is 28-7 this season and has won 126 career matches but has never qualified for the PIAA state tournament.
However, according to a 2014 rule by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, McCall - and any other boy in the state competing against a girl - would have to forfeit the match because boys are not permitted to wrestle girls.
A decision was reached Tuesday night, however, that could change that rule.
"The situation was brought to our attention," Kenneth A. Gavin, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, wrote in an email to The Inquirer. "The decision to take part in any postseason individual championship PIAA wrestling match will be at the discretion of the individual student and his parents."
An explanation for the change was sought but not provided. Gavin was not available for further comment.
The Harrisburg Diocese's policy on coed participation in contact sports states, in part, that "it is incompatible with its religious mission and with its efforts to teach Gospel values to condone competitions between young men and women in sports that involve substantial and potentially immodest physical contact."
Father Judge athletic director James Lynch said the school planned to meet with McCall and his parents Wednesday.
"Our wrestler just wanted to compete," said sixth-year Judge coach Jim Savage, who also coached at North Catholic from 1999 to 2010. "He's worked so hard his whole career. He would wrestle anyone who is put in front of him. So, to have this opportunity to continue to do what he has always wanted to do is phenomenal."
Likewise, Ortiz just wants a chance to compete.
"I really don't care as long as I get to achieve my goal and advance to whatever's next," Ortiz said. "I'm ready for it no matter what. Even if I don't get to wrestle somebody or I do, either way I want to go to regionals."
To compete in Saturday's event, the North Philadelphia resident defeated a male from Overbrook, 14-10, in the Public League consolation semifinals of the sectional tournament at Southern.
"It was exciting," Ortiz said. "It was so overwhelming that I got to impress everyone and show them that I'm actually going somewhere in life instead of being this Latina that doesn't go anywhere, like everyone assumes. I was just so happy that my teammates and coaches from others schools were telling me that I did great. It was really just overwhelming."
In sixth grade, Ortiz, whose record is 3-7 this season, started wrestling with the Beat the Streets Wrestling Program of Philadelphia, an organization whose primary goal is "to help positively alter the 'life trajectory' of our student athletes," according to its website.
"Where I live is a pretty bad neighborhood," Ortiz said. "I wouldn't want to be around that all day, every day. So wrestling also keeps me away from all that stuff because I practice every day."
Matt McConnell, a first-year member of Bracetti's wrestling staff, is also a staff member with Beat the Streets.
"She's really surprising," he said Monday at the Bracetti's joint practice at Council Rock South. "She's really tough. I'm really excited to see her wrestle. She beats some of the boys."
He added: "I see a lot of confidence in her. She has a very aggressive style where she just attacks."
Ortiz, the oldest of five children, said she has a 7-year-old sister, Julissa, who is now interested in wrestling.
Win or lose on Saturday, Ortiz said wrestling has changed her life already.
"I remember from before I even started wrestling I had low self-esteem, was always depressed or sad, and always thought I was alone," she said. "I joined the wrestling team and realized that I didn't have to be like that. The whole team makes me realize that I can be confident and push myself to go harder, be myself, and that I am not alone because they are with me."