Siblings earn awards at AAU Nationals

Ashlee Griffiths isn't out to make her opponents cry. She's out to prove that she can wrestle with the best.

On occasion she does both.

"Everybody her age cries if they lose, no matter if it's to a boy or a girl," said Ashlee's mother, Donna. "It's just that they're not used to a girl being good."

Ashlee's brother, Charlie, can see what her opponents are thinking when they get to the mat.

"Boys think they have it made when they wrestle her," he said. "They find out different."

The Griffiths competed at the AAU Grand National Wrestling Championships in Santa Fe, N.M., last weekend. Charlie finished sixth in the 14-and-younger folkstyle/collegiate 90-pound class and seventh in the 14-and-younger freestyle 90-pound class.

Folkstyle wrestling is the style that is used during the high school season. Freestyle is similar to folkstyle, but if a wrestler can't turn an opponent in 15 seconds after a takedown, a stalemate is called and the wrestlers return to neutral position.

Ashlee took second in the 8-and-younger 55-pound freestyle tournament and was the national champion in the folkstyle/collegiate bracket.

A perfect example of how opponents approach Ashlee is a look at two matches against the same wrestler in Santa Fe. In the freestyle championship, which was wrestled before folkstyle, Griffiths was defeated by Austin Smith of Virginia. Griffiths couldn't remember the exact score but said, "It wasn't very close."

In the semifinals of the folkstyle, she defeated Smith, 8-6.

"(Smith's) dad said he took it easy on her," Donna said. "But I couldn't tell."

Neither could Ashlee.

"He was wrestling the same," she said. "I could feel he wasn't letting up."

Charlie's opinion was that his sister was more fired up for the second match.

"You had fire coming from your eyes," he said to Ashlee. "When you look like that you get mean."

Smith, a winner of three national tournaments this year, certainly didn't act like he had conceded his second match.

"The first time he helped her up and apologized for beating her," Donna said. "The second time he wouldn't even talk to her."

Griffiths went on to win the championship with a 6-5 defeat of Rocky Mountain Nationals placer Jerick Martinez 6-5.

"It was my best tournament," she said.

The Griffiths participated in the tournament as members of the Western Colorado All-Stars. The Amateur Athletic Union helps pay for the trip to nationals when wrestling programs help set up and run regional tournaments. Craig youth wrestling programs were a part of several regional AAU tournaments. To qualify for the national tournament, wrestlers take part in the regional tournaments and earn points.

The tournament was the end of the wrestling season that started in November for the Griffiths. Charlie finished the season 67-25. He was sixth at Monster Mash Nationals, fourth in the Who's Bad Nationals and third in the Big Horn Classic. Ashlee was 68-21 during the year and in addition to her AAU winnings she was sixth in the Who's Bad Nationals.

Charlie said he enjoyed his trip to Santa Fe because he had a chance to practice with the other Western Colorado All-Stars.

"Our coach was really good," he said. "I learned a lot and made some friends."

Dan Gable, Olympic gold medalist, signed the wrestlers' singlets.

All nine Western Colorado All Stars placed at the tournament that had wrestlers from 15 states.

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