Amara Ehsa could barely sit still in the stands.
Her younger brothers were participants in Derby Junior Wrestling, often sending her on the road with her dad to watch them compete. Admittedly, she wasn’t very interested at first but that slowly changed for the now freshman.
“I would watch, stay engaged and feel angry when they would lose,” Ehsa said. “I then began to feel that I wanted to be out there, win and feel those moments.”
She has wrestled for two years overall and has emerged as a captain on the girls roster and a contender to reach the 6A state wrestling tournament at Hartman Arena in Park City.
With only the postseason remaining, she has set her eyes on becoming the first Derby girls’ wrestler to have her name on the practice room walls as a state placer.
Praised for her work ethic, Ehsa brought a dance background to the wrestling room and found how beneficial that would be.
“I’m really athletic and super flexible,” she said. “I have a lot of room to grow and having this success early, I know there are going to be a lot of opportunities for me.”
Ehsa and her teammates opened their season on Dec. 5, 2020, at Valley Center. The freshman wrestled at 109 pounds to open her career, dropping two matches. She is now 10-1 since and 13-3 overall.
She spoke of the rigors of school wrestling, feeling like she has made the adjustments to perform on the state’s biggest stage later this month.
“The practices are a lot harder [than what I was used to],” she said. “I was in a higher weight class in my first matches, so it was a lot harder. Once I dropped down to my actual weight class, I was running through it.”
Ehsa’s dreams don’t simply reside inside the halls of Derby High School.
Her father is a native of Micronesia and the island of Pohnpei. The Pacific Island country sits approximately 2,000 miles northeast of Australia and has a population of 113,815.
She said they’ve begun discussing a trip to the country in order to compete internationally.
“I’m not just doing it for the United States, I’m doing it for my country,” she added.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) launched girls’ wrestling as a sanctioned sport last school year. Kansas is now one of 28 states to have it stand as an official sport. They held their first state tournament in Feb. 2020.
The Derby girls’ wrestling program launched in 2019-2020 with three participants. The team started the season with 12 and that number is now at 10.
Actively recruiting her classmates to join the program, Ehsa is eager to see the program grow over the next three years.
In just its second year at Derby, Ehsa also wants to set an example for young women who want to someday represent the school on the wrestling mat.
“I was so excited to be in this program, the first girls poster and being the first girls’ captain is really exciting,” she said. “I hope the little girls in Derby can see they can do this too. Even if they’re not the first, they’re helping us grow.”