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West Jordan Journal

Copper Hills wrestler headed to world championships

Jul 01, 2022 11:50AM ● By Greg James

By Greg James | [email protected]

Copper Hills is sending one of its finest wrestlers to the 17 and under world championships.

“It is my second year wrestling,” Copper Hills senior Anya Hatch said. “My dad got me into the sport. He got me out and asked me to try out. It was something new that I had never done before. It is a really different sport.”

Hatch’s father has helped coach wresting at Copper Hills for 13 seasons, starting when his oldest son was a freshman. Two years ago he and Scott Pace helped organize the first girls team at the school. The team has finished runner-up at state both years and Hatch has won two state titles in her weight class.

Anya Hatch defeated her Copper Hills teammate and co-captain, Tayleigh Robertson, for this year’s title. She pinned her at the 2 minutes 38 seconds point of the match.

“Anya has played volleyball competitively and I went to her and said 'hey, will you just come to try this,'” father Jay Hatch said. “Her Mom did not really like it because at first, the girls had to wrestle boys, but when they started all-girls wrestling she gave it a shot.”

In June Anya Hatch participated in the United States world team trials in Dallas, Texas. She lost in the semi-finals. The winner qualified as part of the world team traveling to Rome, Italy in July.

“Her club coach reached out to the Tongan Olympic team and asked about Anya representing them at the worlds. They said they would love to have her,” Jay Hatch said.

Anya Hatch was born in the island nation of Tonga and at age 3 became an orphan. She was adopted by Jay and Penina Leakehe Hatch and brought to Utah.

“Anya will be the first female Tongan to wrestle at a world event,” Jay Hatch said. “This is jumpstarting Polynesian girls in the United States and in other countries to start wrestling and take notice. It is a pretty exciting thing.”

Girls wrestling has been a UHSAA-sanctioned sport for two seasons. The number of wrestlers has nearly doubled and most high schools now have full teams.

The world wrestling championship is scheduled to be held July 25-31 in Rome, Italy. The Tongan Olympic committee does not have the financial ability to help her get to the championship. She and her family have been tasked with raising money so she can participate.

“We started a GoFundMe and have been looking for businesses to help participate. We have raised about $2,000, but we need more than that to get her there,” Jay Hatch said. “Corporate sponsors could help us. She could do some marketing or promote the business.”

Girls wrestling has been such a new program at Copper Hills, Hatch and her teammates have had to help recruit other girls to come out for the team.

“I have learned wrestling and mental skills. I have had to learn to do it myself. It is physically tiring. I tell girls to try this out,” Anya Hatch said.

Hatch has six brothers and sisters. She would like to have her mom travel with her to Rome for the event.

“She is an unreal and natural athlete. She excels at any sport. She is unbelievably strong. She knows how to do things naturally. She has a carefree personality and I think that is to her benefit,” Jay Hatch said. “We want this sport to grow. She has friends across the nation because of this sport.”