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Jada Chaves is Aiming for the Top

Jada Chaves was not even a year old in February 2007, when Arundel High senior Nicole Woody made history by becoming Maryland’s first girl to win an Anne Arundel County and regional title and to finish as a Class 4A-3A state runner-up at 103 pounds.

Chaves was not yet born in March 2006 when Montgomery County freshman Helen Maroulis made an initial impact by becoming the first girl to place at the Maryland wrestling championships with a sixth place finish at 112 pounds in the 4A-3A state tournament. But it is Chaves who is at Woody’s alma mater following in their footsteps as a 106-pound senior most recently, as a champion at last Saturday’s Falcon Invitational at Winters Mill High.

Chaves was among the victorious Wildcats’ four individual champions and eight wrestlers who finished within the top four of their weight classes in the 12-team event, being joined by sophomore Anthony Allen (120) and the Brown siblings, Luca (138), a junior, and Matteo (144), a freshman.

The 17-year-old Chaves earned her 12th and 13th pins of the year in 62 seconds and 1:41, the latter against Frederick sophomore Amir Bakari. Chaves’ overall record stands at 22-4, including 9-1 against Anne Arundel County League rivals.

“This was my first tournament where I’ve won against all boys,” said Chaves “I’m always aiming for the top, especially with the county tournament coming up.”

Chaves has placed fifth at the county tournament against boys as well as first and third at the past two all-girls state tournaments, whose inaugural event was held in February 2018 by the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association at Northeast High and has since moved to The Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro.

No Maryland female has placed in both the girls’ and boys’ regional and state tournaments, and Chaves is considering a transition to the boys’ regional and Class 4A-3A state events after the February 16-17 county tournament.

“It’s my senior season, but I’m still undecided which state tournament I wish to compete in,” Chaves said. “I would like an opportunity to finish high school by having placed in both male and female states.”

Last March, South River senior Alexandra Szkotnicki established herself as the second-most accomplished female wrestler since Woody by placing fourth at 113 pounds while wrestling against public school boys at the Class 4A-3A state tournament.

Szkotnicki’s effort came two weeks after defeating Broadneck sophomore Cam Williams, 1-0, to become only the second female to win an Anne Arundel County title, and a week after having placed third at the Class 4A-3A East Region Tournament.

Chaves need look no farther for inspiration than Wildcats’ coach Rob Connolly and assistant Jeff Blachly, each of whom is a 43-year-old who won Class 4A-3A state titles as wrestlers at Arundel High in the late 1990s.

Connolly was an unbeaten 160-pound state champion at 35-0 as a senior in 1998 when the Wildcats earned the Class 4A-3A state tournament crown.

Blachly weighed just 195 as a runner-up at 275 pounds in '98, and only 212 pounds in 1999 when he earned the 275-pound Class 4A-3A crown with an 8-4 decision over Magruder's Juan Reyna.

“Jada hasn’t committed to a college yet, but I know that Gannon, Marymount and McDaniel want her badly,” Connolly said. “Jada placed third at the Parkville tournament, went 6-2 at South River and 8-0 at Digital Duals. Jada’s been wrestling boys all year. I hope she’s still considering a run at the boys’ side.”

Jada's father, Joe, is another source of encouragement as an assistant to Connolly.

"As parents and coaches our job is to provide opportunities for Jada, and that's where she's at," Joe Chaves said. "At the end of the day, it's really up to Jada, and I'm proud of her either way."

Woody pinned South River’s Curtis Taylor in five minutes, 42 seconds for the county title and blanked Centennial’s Jack Western 2-0 in the finals of the Class 4A-3A regionals on a reversal with 1:01 left in the third period.

Woody lost her state title bout 6-2 to River Hill’s Scott Mantua, who had finished third behind her at regions after losing to Western in the regional semifinals. Woody won her state semifinal 5-4 in overtime against Tuscarora’s C.J. Savage, having already become the first girl to qualify for the 4A-3A meet as a sophomore and the first to pin a boy at a state meet as a junior.

Western Tech’s Jade Hendricks became the first girl to reach the Class 2A-1A state tournament, the same year that Woody did so on the 4A-3A side. But Hendricks went 0-2.

As a Magruder junior in 2009, Maroulis became the first female to reach the finals of both the Montgomery County and Class 4A-3A East Region tournaments and repeated her sixth-place finish at states.

In 2010, Smithsburg senior Monica Hovermale (103) became the first female to place in the Class 2A-1A states and the third female to do so overall, finishing sixth.

A four-time Washington County champ, Hovermale totaled 104 career victories, becoming Maryland’s first female wrestler to surpass 100 wins. Hovermale went 2-2 as a sophomore at states, becoming the first female to win at least a match on the Class 2A-1A side.

"We've continually left all options on the table for Jada," Joe Chaves said. "While she's a competitor for a boys' title, winning a second girls title is a significant accomplishment that would set a high bar for Arundel wrestlers in the future."

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