Rayne Steely, left and Mikayla Byington. Courtesy of St. Amant High School

Steely makes history winning school’s first girls wrestling state title

Rayne Steely and Mikayla Byington (Courtesy of St. Amant High School)

ST. AMANT — The St. Amant wrestling team witnessed its first girls state wrestling champion in school history Saturday.

Rayne Steely captured the 144-pound state title after defeating Albany’s Savannah Camaratta in the finals at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association (LHSCA) girls state wrestling tournament Saturday at Baton Rouge High.

St. Amant girl wrestlers Steely, Mikayla Byington, and Kyleigh Pearson finished seventh in the team standings.

Byington was the state runner-up in the 106-pound division. Pearson suffered a torn ACL, MCL, and meniscus in her first match.

Steely’s championship win came two days after the principals across the state voted 96-1 to sanction girls wrestling as an LHSAA varsity sport.

“From the start, we have been hoping and fighting for girls to be sanctioned,” she said. “So the day coach rounded up everyone in a circle and broke the news that girls’ wrestling was finally sanctioned, I immediately began to bawl my eyes out. I was so happy. The moment almost felt unreal. It’s like one of those moments you watch on TV when everything falls into place perfectly.”

MORE FROM UNFILTERED WITH KIRAN: Girls wrestling to become varsity LHSAA sport

The journey from freshman wrestler to state champion was challenging for Steely. She was the first girl to join the wrestling team after Clint Brownell became coach.

“Rayne was my first girl when she started two seasons ago, her freshman year,” Brownell recalled. “She was the only girl on the team. We didn’t have a varsity wrestler at the weight class that she was eligible for, so she was our varsity starter in the boys division for her whole freshman season.”

Brownell said Steely won one match her freshman year but grew from that experience. The following year, as more female wrestlers joined other teams, girls’ brackets were made, and Steely competed in those where she dominated.

St. Amant Wrestling Coach Clint Brownell, Rayne Steely and Mikayla Byington (Courtesy of St. Amant High School)

“When I started high school, I went to find the wrestling coach,” Steely said. “I asked if I could just practice with the team. Coach Clint said ‘You can do more than practice. You can be on the team.’ Clint was a new coach my freshman year, and I was the only girl on the team. He understood how I felt being the only girl because he used to be a cheerleader. He was very understanding and supportive.”

Steely said making history at St. Amant for the future wrestlers meant a lot to her.

“For me to go out and make history for all the future girl wrestlers of not only St. Amant but for everyone is huge,” she said. “It’s really an amazing feeling knowing that I’m a part of the reason the future of the sport is going to flourish.”

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