Maya Hemo was excited to sign up for Cherry Hill East’s newly formed girls wrestling team during her freshman year in 2020. But then the pandemic lockdown and a series of injuries kept her off the mats for much of her first 2 seasons. So that makes her recent victory as champion of the state’s Southern Region even sweeter.

“It was never just about wrestling,” says Maya, who placed first in the under 126-pound weight class and is now training for national competitions. “Wrestling made me get my life in check and really made me work on myself.”

Her victory has sparked more interest in East’s girls wrestling program, says Coach Steve Ascola, noting that Maya was the lone female wrestler this year. “Maya is the toughest person I’ve ever met and has an extremely stubborn approach to her competitiveness,” he adds. “She refuses to quit no matter how difficult the situation is, the odds are, or the pain she might be in.”

May 2022
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