Though the annual USA Wrestling Junior Nationals tournament slated for this summer at the Fargodome was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sierra Ramberg still has something to celebrate.
The West Fargo High School senior won’t get her last hurrah at the dome, but she did get a special send-off.
The 113-pound Ramberg was one of 46 female wrestlers in the country to receive the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award, which is given to the most outstanding high school senior female wrestlers for excellence in wrestling, academics, citizenship and community service.
“Receiving that award meant the absolute world to me. I was so honored to even be nominated and I thank James Porter so much for that,” Ramberg said. “After my coach Ben Berogan texted me congratulations I hadn’t even seen it yet but when I did, I tell you I cried. It felt like the four hard years I put into the sport of wrestling had paid off all in that moment.”
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame announced the record-high state winners May 12. The award is named after Saunders, a four-time World Champion and pioneer for women’s wrestling.
“It brings us great joy to recognize these outstanding female wrestlers, who have excelled not only on the wrestling mat, but also in the classroom and in their communities,” said Hall of Fame executive director Lee Roy Smith in a press release. “I want to thank our selection committee for the thorough work they have done in determining this year's winners.”
Ramberg, who used to be a competitive gymnast, first started wrestling her freshman year of high school after she hurt her back. Her brothers all wrestled for West Fargo, and going to tournaments since she was a baby, the sport was in her blood.
The 2020 graduate is headed to Concordia College in the fall and plans to run track for the Cobbers. She’s hanging up her own headgear, but may help coach the girls in the Packers wrestling program next year. Ramberg is still working to get the state sanctioned.
With more than 27,000 female high school wrestlers competing across the country, women’s wrestling is one of the fastest-growing high school sports, according to the award press release.
“The growth of girls wrestling is exciting and we’re recognizing a record number of state winners this year,” Smith said. “We look forward to following these young women as they chart new goals for themselves on the mat and in their lives.”
Ramberg was nominated for the national award by the state’s director of female wrestling. Winners are selected for their wrestling success and sportsmanship, GPA, academic honors and distinctions, as well as demonstrated commitment to character and community.
It’s not the first time Ramberg nabbed some hardware this year. She made history at the Mandan Lions wrestling tournament in December, becoming the first female wrestler to win the Zachmeier Award for being an MVP on and off the mat.
“I am so very thankful for everyone in the North Dakota wrestling community who has encouraged me to continue doing the sport throughout my high school career, especially my family, my coaches and my teammates,” Ramberg said.