*Provided by the East Brunswick Patch
The East Brunswick Wrestling Club has a tradition of sending its athletes to the top.
This year alone several wrestlers finished high or won tournaments throughout the season, including nine kids who qualified for the NJ Kid’s State Championship and one young lady who qualified for the NJ Girl’s State Championship.
When the tournaments were over, it was 7-year-old Stephanie Yarnall who became the club’s first state champion, winning the New Jersey Girl’s State Championship.
“Stephanie really enjoys the sport, her coaches, her teammates and especially when people that don’t know her come up to her to congratulate her. Every time she gets on the mat, she gives it her all. She practices very hard and will even do pull ups at home,” said her father, Keith Yarnall.
The 40-pounder posted a record of 22-10 this season, her second year on the mat, a fact that doesn’t surprise her father, who says Stephanie simply does not want to lose. Keith Yarnall, a coach with the club for eight years, said she got her start after seeing her brother wrestle.
“Her older brother has been wrestling for about four years, so she has been around the sport for some time,” he said in an email. “We asked her if she wanted to try it. She said ‘yes’ with no hesitation and we brought her to a couple practices and she really enjoyed it. You could see she picked things up very quickly.”
For Stephanie, a first-grader at Parkview School in Milltown, hitting the mat has become more than just a sport. It has become a place where she can see all her hard work pay off. And when she’s at home, Stephanie is just like any other girl. She loves to spend time with her friends (she even brings them to some of her matches), plays with Barbie dolls, tries on make up and spends time as a St. Bart’s cheerleader. But you would never know it when you see her wrestle, said her father.
“Stephanie has two sets of friends—school and wrestling,” he said. “The wrestling friends treat her like any other teammate because they know how hard she works. She has brought a couple of her school friends to matches to watch her, and they are very impressed.”
Despite the hard work and success, Stephanie is still very much a little girl, and gets as nervous as anyone else when asked to perform.
“Last year we figured the toughest part was to get her out on the mat, once we do that, she will be OK,” he said. “She cries easily, before during and after the match. Sometimes it has nothing to do with her match. I have seen her crying, winning 12-0, so its up to her coach and/or myself to at least keep her as calm as possible. The best matches (from a coach or a fathers point of view) is when she pins the opponent in the first period. She says she gets nervous because she doesn’t like to lose (of course, who does), and I try to explain its not all about winning but she is just out there to win every match.”
To quote the excited mother: “It is a very special article for all of us. We’re soooo proud of her”