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FEATURE: Michaela and Eli Hutchison become the first brother and sister to win state titles
History was made at the Alaska state championship this year when Michaela Hutchison became the first girl in the U.S. to win a state title while competing against boys. Her 19-year-old brother Eli also won his fourth career state title, competing at 135 lbs.
Hutchison, a 16-year-old sophomore at Skyline High School, had previously placed second in the Alaska state championship as a freshman. This year, wrestling at 103 lbs., she finally made her dream come true.
The Hutchisons are very much a wrestling family. Their father Mike Hutchison is the State Chairperson of Alaska for USA Wrestling. Her older brother Zeb has also won a state high school title. Her sister, Melina, is nationally ranked on the senior level in women's wrestling. Michaela is already a nationally ranked wrestler, winning a gold medal at USA Wrestling' Body Bar Women's FILA Cadet Nationals in 2005 and a silver medal at the 2005 ASICS Women's Junior Nationals.
Ever since the children became interested in wrestling, the family has been traveling around the country participating in USA Wrestling events. The practice has definitely paid off, because now the family now boasts three state title winners.
Michaela Hutchison attributes the start of her budding wrestling career to her brothers, Eli and Zeb.
"I just started because of them, because I wanted to be like them," said Hutchison.
Although Hutchison has made wrestling history, neither she, nor anyone in the Hutchison family considers it a statement about girl wrestlers.
"For us it's not a gender issue. To us it's just wrestling," said father Michael. "She wrestles because she loves the sport. She's not making a statement. Her goal was to win the state championship because it was the state championship, not because she's a girl. She just wrestles for the sake of wrestling."
Michaela's older brother, Eli, doesn't consider gender to be an issue in her wrestling either. Hutchison has been wrestling since the age of seven. He was 10 when his younger sister also took up the sport.
"I thought it was fine," said Hutchison. "I didn't really think about it since she's one of the family. I was probably too young to think about her being a girl. I thought she's my sister and I'm sure she can do it."
Even though his sister's win was a historic one, Eli Hutchison wasn't focusing on that aspect of the bout.
"I wasn't thinking she was the first girl [to win the state title]. I was thinking she's my sister and she won the state title. I was very, very happy," said Hutchison.
Hutchison competed with dominance during the state championship. His 14-4 win against Matt Blakeslee of South Anchorage High School, marked his fourth consecutive state title, and places him among an elite category of high school wrestlers.
Hutchison has not been defeated in Alaska since he was in the sixth grade. He was recently ranked No. 1 in his weight class by W.I.N. Magazine.
Before her match, Hutchison told his sister to wrestle smart and to keep her position.
"She could do it, but she had to wrestle well to do it," said Hutchison.
Her opponent in the finals was Aaron Boss of Colony High School. Hutchison was able to win with an escape in the final seconds of the match, ending it 1-0. She walked away from the match with a bloody nose and a state title.
"I was just focusing on the match like any other match," said Hutchison.
Immediately after her winning move, however, Hutchison was astounded that she had actually defeated her opponent to take the state title.
"I can't believe I won. I just can't believe anything," said Hutchison.
Since that night, Hutchison has grown accustomed to the fact that she finally won the state title. With her prestigious victory and national media coverage, Hutchison has become a local celebrity.
"People ask my name and when I say Michaela, they always ask if I'm 'The' Michaela," Hutchison said.
Both siblings agree that it was a great experience to receive state titles together.
"It was awesome. It felt good," said Eli Hutchison.
After bringing up several talented wrestlers in the family, Mike Hutchison is equally proud of his son and daughter's accomplishments at the tournament.
"I was super happy," said Mike Hutchison. "I helped coach and have coached a lot of boys and girls throughout the years. I was just excited and pumped up with all of it. It was a good night for us."
With their recent achievements, both Michaela and Eli have undoubtedly set the bar higher for other high school wrestlers. Given their wrestling lineage and well-known talent, it will be interesting to see what new goals this brother and sister are capable of achieving in the future.