FRAMINGHAM – Balancing school work, sports, senior year and preparing for college is no small feat. However, it is a skill that Framingham High School senior Bella Ricchiazzi has mastered.
Ricchiazzi, 17, is currently ranked 5th in the nation in the 132 weight class for high school female wrestlers.
No stranger to the mat, the teen has been wrestling since 6th grade.
She became interested in the sport after hours spent in the gym watching her older brother participate in the sport.
“In sixth grade they let me wrestle in one of the [high school] JV matches. It turned out I ended up wrestling a girl from Brookline and ended up winning,” Ricchiazzi said, “All the guys’ team backed me up and it was just so cool, because they were like ‘Oh she’s a girl, she’s only been wrestling for like 6 weeks, and she just won against a freshman in high school.’”
She was one of the captains of the Framingham High wrestling team, this past season.
Ricchiazzi is also the only female on her two club wrestling teams in Lowell and Natick.
However, during the high school off-season, Ricchiazzi tries to wrestle as many women as she can.
“In off-season, I try to go to as many girl tournaments [as possible], because that’s who I’m going to be wrestling against in college,” Ricchiazzi said.
However, finding women’s tournaments is not an easy task.
“I think it was last off-season, I had to go to 10 different states to get girls’ matches. So I went to nationals, there were 3 different nationals tournaments that were all girls,” she said.
The athlete has already committed to The University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky. There, she will be on both the wrestling and lacrosse teams. Ricchiazzi started playing lacrosse in 3rd grade.
Though she loves both sports, she shared that wrestling it probably her favorite.
“During wrestling season, I’m all about wrestling and I don’t really play lacrosse, but during lacrosse season I still wrestle 24/7, so I feel like probably wrestling, just because wrestling, you know what you can fix,” Ricchiazzi said, “During wrestling, you’re going to give 100 percent, but your teammates might not give 100 percent during lacrosse.”
Ricchiazzi passion and dedication to the sport is evident, as seen in her national rankings. However, the Framingham High School senior remains humble. For her, one of the greatest parts of being so successful is inspiring other girls to wrestle.
“It’s humbling, because little girls come up to me and they’re like ‘Oh, you’re such a good wrestler’ and just, like, admire me,” Ricchiazzi said.
However, it is not just little girls that look up to the wrestler. In fact, she recently met another high school senior who was inspired by Bella’s success.
“A senior in high school from Hingham came up to me the other day and was like, ‘You’re the reason I started wrestling’ and she was my age, which was so cool, because I’m not [just] inspiring little kids, it’s everybody,” she said.
Ricchiazzi is focused on preparing for nationals in Oklahoma. The event will take place from March 22-25.
She recently won the New England and the Connecticut State wrestling titles in her weight class. Since Massachusetts does not have a sanctioned girls state tourney, she was allowed to compete in Connecticut.
“I’m just going to do tournaments like every weekend, as much as possible.”
She will also compete in tournaments in April and July, before starting College.
More than anything, the talented wrestler believes it is important to have fun with the sport.
“You have to stick with it until you love it and once you love it you’ll realize it’s just fun. Don’t give up because it gets hard. It’s probably the hardest sport in the world, but don’t give up when things get hard, you just have to push through.”