- Collan Fitzpatrick
Palmer High School junior Angel Deaton may not appear that intimidating when she shows up to wrestling matches in a pink and white singlet with palm trees, and black socks with the word "cutie."
But at 103 pounds, she earned six wins and made two boys cry during last year's high school wrestling season.
"She's tenacious," Palmer wrestling coach Martin Davidson says. "She goes at them."
Deaton began wrestling for the junior varsity team last year, but she has been wrestling with her two younger brothers for years. In sixth grade, she showed up at the boys wrestling tryout, but was turned away because of district policy at the time. So she ran track and played for an otherwise all-male hockey team.
When she first joined Palmer's wrestling team, some of the boys were critical.
"When I came in they thought I was a manager," Deaton says. "And then I dressed out, and a couple of them were like, 'Oh, Coach, come on -- why do we have to have a girl on the team? Everyone's going to make fun of us.'"
As the season progressed, the boys became more accepting, sometimes protective. Her opponents, meanwhile, could be excessively rough on her. Some would tug on the T-shirt she was required to wear under her singlet, or force her into positions that are more uncomfortable for females.
Three others forfeited their matches.
Although Deaton knew only the Half Nelson and Cradle moves when she started, she recently placed second in the Colorado Women's Wrestling Championship Open and third in the Colorado Girls' State Championship.
"If I kept up the progress that I made for that first year ... then there could be a chance that I could be really good," Deaton says. "I kind of want to go to the Olympics on it."
-- Jessica Sidman
photo by Collan Fitzpatrick