Lower Merion’s Dacia James win Folkstyle State Championships

Throughout the PIAA high school wresting season, Lower Merion senior Dacia James – “DJ’ – caused people to take notice because she was the only girl on the Aces’ roster. Holding her own in matches, and even winning some, earned her the respect of her entire team, the LM coaching staff, and people who closely followed the Aces.

On March 8, she finished in first place in the 124 weight-class at the 2015 PAWF Girls Folkstyle State Championships at Susquehanna High School in Harrisburg. James wrestled two girls, Alicia Colon and Shanelle Ford and pinned both of them.

“She kicked their [backsides],’ said Lower Merion wrestling head coach Jim Perri. “I told her about that tournament several months ago and suggested she compete.’

James knew that she would have to adapt to wrestling girls.

“I only wrestled another girl one time, and that was two years ago in Georgia,’ said James. After James beat her, she found herself competing just against boys.

“When I wrestle guys, I don’t feel over powered, but they’re stronger than me,’ said James. “Girls are quicker [than guys] and are more flexible.’

But James proved to be equally quick, and that is partially due to her conditioning and running track this spring for Lower Merion.

James’s matches against Colon and Ford were easier than some of her matches this season because she was stronger than both of them.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do so well in my wrestling season without my coaches,’ said James. “I give them all the credit in my success and future success as well.’

James hopes to wrestle in college next year, but she is still deciding which one. She is currently focusing on track.

“DJ has an incredible work ethic,’ said Lower Merion girls’ track head coach Sandy Hoopes. “She is setting a great example for the young athletes to learn which is if you work hard, you will find success.’

James said, “Ms. Hoopes is a great coach and she wants the best from everyone.’

James has no problem with Hoopes being critical because she knows that Coach Hoopes cares, adding, “Technique and form matters to her.’

The Lower Merion track lineup was not yet finalized as of March 16, James is considering competing in the 100-meter run, 200-meter run, 400-meter run, long jump and the 4×100. And if James displays the same level of determination in track as she did when she wrestled, she will be a key runner to watch for this spring.

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