Baltimore area’s six state girls wrestling champions each make history in their own way — and hope to inspire others

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UPPER MARLBORO — Faith Day was the first to make history, and Taylor Mead followed her, but with the growth of girls wrestling in Carroll County — and Maryland — you can be sure they won’t be the last.

In the three-year history of a girls wrestling division at the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association state wrestling tournament, no Carroll County girl had earned a state title.


That changed one match into Saturday evening’s finals at The Show Place Arena. Day, Manchester Valley’s undefeated 100-pound junior, pinned Arundel’s Josie Langtry in the third period to become the county’s first girls state champion.

Later in the evening, Westminster’s Mead (140) added her name to the record book. Six Baltimore-area girls earned titles on the day, each making history in their own way. Oakland Mills’ Jada Fowler (120) and Crofton’s Lexy Pabon (125) became their school’s first champions, Randallstown’s Ugochi Anunobi (170) became just the fourth two-time girls champ, and Southern-AA’s Domenica Gladwell’s 115-pound title run was one of pure dominance rarely seen.


Despite finishing the year 21-0, Day admitted that she wasn’t expecting to end her year as a champion.

Manchester Valley's Faith Day works to pin Arundel's Josie Langtry in the 100-pound final during the girls state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday.

“It’s kind of a weird feeling because I wasn’t expecting to make it far to be completely honest,” Day said. “I dropped weight to get down to this class and I’m proud of how far I did [go].”

She controlled her match, holding a 3-0 lead before hitting the winning move.

“I started to fall over the top, but I regained my balance and threw myself on top of her,” Day said, “ended up in a half and stuck her from there.”

Not only was Day proud of her accomplishments, but she is also proud of the family legacy she joins.

“My grandfather was a two-time national champion, my dad was a state champion in high school and a two-time Eastern National champion,” Day said. “My brother, he’s only 14, but he’s got some pretty good shoes to fill.”

Southern-AA's Domenica Gladwell celebrates her victory over Reservoir's Kadence Chau in the 115-pound final during the girls state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday.

Gladwell might enjoy spending time on the mat, but she sure didn’t seem like she wanted to be out there for very long. She won four matches by pin, becoming only the second Maryland girl to accomplish that feat until Pabon and Mead did the same. However, no one has done it so impressively, with three coming in the first period. The one match that lasted until the second came over returning state champion Alaina Kopalchick of Perry Hall, a match Gladwell said was “a big step.”

“I’m so happy, I’ve worked so hard for this,” she said. “I’m so thankful for my coaches and everyone that has helped me along the way. They knew I could do it; I knew I could do it, I just had to go out there and do it.”


Her finals win over Reservoir’s Kadence Chau came in just 37 seconds.

“I really wanted it, so I just went out and went for it,” Gladwell said. “I got a little scared, but my adrenaline was going. I reversed it and got her head and held it there.”

Like Gladwell, Fowler, Pabon and Mead all became their school’s first girls state champions, in what they hope will be trailblazing moments.

Oakland Mills' Jada Fowler, left, battles Eastern Tech's Ariana Carnahan in the 120-pound final during the girls state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday.

“This is a real good moment,” Fowler said. “Honestly, I hope more girls come out at Oakland Mills and that they get here and get first just like I did.”

Fowler battled Eastern Tech’s Ariana Carnahan into the third period with the score tied at 2. She then found her opening and got her winning takedown in the final minute, drawing on all the hard work she put into her sport.

“It feels really good, all that hard work put in play,” Fowler said. “I made it this far, I can’t go down without a fight. That work ethic I put into this, I’ve been doing this for three years, states at least, I wasn’t going down for second.”


Pabon matched Gladwell’s feat with four pins in the state tournament. And like Fowler, she also hopes her win inspires.

“It means a lot knowing I’m the only girl that made it really far in Crofton wrestling. Girls can do what boys can,” she said. “I think that women’s wrestling has grown a lot from inspiration. [South River’s] Alex Szkotnicki, she’s inspired me wrestling coed. ... I think people get inspiration seeing people who aren’t expected to do things do them.”

She scored her championship win with a second-period pin over Rachael Wheatley of Perry Hall.

“I cannot remember anything really,” Pabon said. “All I remember was she was on her back and I took the moment.”

Westminster's Taylor Mead, left, battles Colonel Richardson's Saleta Nichols in the 140-pound final during the girls state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday.

Mead pinned Colonel Richardson’s Saleta Nichols 20 seconds into the second round after she overcame some early nerves.

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“I was really nervous at first, but once I stepped on the mat I felt calm and ready to go,” Mead said.


She added that while Westminster might not have the number of girls wrestlers that other county programs like Manchester Valley or Francis Scott Key do, she hopes her win can open doors.

“Our girls team is kind of small right now, but I hope it grows a lot more,” she said. “The more we succeed I hope that brings out more people.”

Anunobi’s second title run was a bit more dominant than last year, when she needed to rally in the third period to win her first title. This year, she earned three pins and controlled her final match against Stephen Decatur’s Azariyah Johnson the whole way and earned a 7-4 decision.

“It feels relieving,” Anunobi said. “Last year I didn’t do so good, but this year it wasn’t perfect but it was better. It felt so good.”

She said there’s no mystery behind her improvement.

“Experience; time and effort,” she said. “Once I won states last year I started taking it more seriously. I was going to more practice. It really made a difference.”

Randallstown's Ugochi Anunobi celebrates her win over Stephen Decatur's Azariyah Johnson in the 170-pound final during the girls state wrestling tournament at The Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro on Saturday.