A Metro Conference meet for the emerging sport of girls varsity wrestling took place for the first time Jan. 13-14 at East River High and West Orange High sophomore Natalia Dunbar won a conference championship in the 132-pound weight class. Dunbar, whose record is 4-4 this season, is one of the students whose push to form a girls wrestling team on campus helped get the sport off the ground this year.
How did it feel to place first in your class at the first Metro Conference meet for girls wrestling?
It felt pretty good. … It just felt like it was a goal that I wanted — it was an achievement.
How exciting was it to help get a team off the ground at West Orange?
I was really excited. Last year I wanted to get on the guy’s wrestling team and they said “there’s no more room, we have a full team, but you can go talk to the athletic director and try and make a team.” So we started that whole process, but we weren’t sure it was going to happen. But when we finally were actually going to start, I was like “okay, let’s go!”
Now that you’re on a team, were you surprised by the intensity of the conditioning?
The conditioning down here is a lot harder (than in Rhode Island). We do a lot more running. … I don’t get tired now for a lot longer. I can go three periods and then I’m like “okay, let’s start again.”
What’s your general strategy or strength on the mat?
I play to their mistakes.
What is the best advice coach Charles Harbin or Kristen Iannuzzi have given you?
Work your hardest, even in practice.
What is your goal for the rest of the season?
I want to place at states — whether it be first or not.
Do you have a favorite show you like to watch?
I love watching Jordan Burroughs wrestling videos.
How did you get into wrestling?
My older brother (Christopher) wrestled. I look up to him and I want to be like him — he’s done so well and he would place in Rhode Island state tournaments. I knew his coaches and his coaches were like my teachers.
What is your dream career?
Maybe chiropractor or physical therapist.