The first boy scheduled to meet Rianne Murphy at Sunday’s Indiana State Wrestling Association Folkstyle State Finals forfeited. For religious reasons, he couldn't wrestle a girl.
The Valparaiso 13-year-old and St. Paul school seventh-grader didn’t mind. She was wrestling in the boys and girls brackets simultaneously, and it was a welcome break during a day in which Murphy wrestled 11 matches.
“I simply enjoy wrestling. It doesn’t matter who’s on the mat with me,” she said. “There’s some situations where they say that a girl can’t wrestle or that they shouldn’t be. In that situation if I beat them it’s more satisfying. But I just see everyone as a wrestler.”
Murphy beat a lot of wrestlers Sunday and was atop the podiums, winning both 14U 87-pound weight class championships.
ISWA Women’s Director Jason DeLois said Murphy is the first girl to win a folkstyle state title in Indiana at the cadet level or higher.
“They have gender divisions for a reason. How long will she be where she is? I don’t know. Who’s to say?” Rianne’s dad John Murphy said. “The naysayers said it would’ve happened by now and it hasn't. She’s still winning.”
The first thing Rianne Murphy said she saw Sunday in her boys championship match, after the third-period buzzer sounded and she knew she won her second state championship, was John Murphy and the Region Wrestling Academy coaches and teammates celebrating.
That scene is a big part of why she said there’s nothing like winning a state championship.
“When you’re (at state), your coaches and your teammates are there. And when you win, they’re happy for you and they get to see you accomplish that,” Rianne Murphy said. “I’ve been working state since fall. So, when you get there and then you win, it’s big.”
Evan Stanley, her RWA practice partner, was one of those celebrating. He also won a state title in the 12U 86-pound weight class.
"She’s pretty tough, so it’s pretty fun to go out there and battle with someone that tough. It doesn’t matter that she’s a girl,” Stanley, 11, said. "She works hard and is super competitive with her style. She’ll get a bloody nose and have her hair all in her face so people will ask her if she wants to stop but she says no, she’ll keep going."
Rianne Murphy also won both girls and boys ISWA state folkstyle crowns in 2017, as well.
“I’m a proud dad,” John Murphy said. “Where it goes, how far it goes is up to Rianne and up to God. I don’t know where it ends but I’m enjoying the journey.”
Murphy’s younger brother J.P. won a state championship Sunday, as well. His came in the 10U 59-pound class.
“Just to see my brother, who worked really hard to be successful, to be successful with him, was really special,” Rianne Murphy said. “I was very proud of him.”
Rianne Murphy has national and international championships in jiu-jitsu. She started that sport at Corral’s Martial Arts as a six year old. That background helped her in wrestling, RWA coach Jose Escobedo said. He’s been working with Rianne Murphy for about three years.
“She’s very good at rolling, so I allow her to roll a little more than other athletes,” Escobedo said. “She’s a great listener, a hard worker, very athletic and very disciplined. That’s the biggest thing I can say. She’s easy to coach.”
Escobedo said Rianne Murphy isn’t treated any different than any of the boys he coaches and she doesn’t want to be.
“Every year we see more and more girls in the sport. Girls wrestling, in general, is growing,” Rianne Murphy said. “I think that’s a good thing. More and more people are seeing it as not just a boys sport but a sport for people that are hard-working and self-driven.”