Tuttle’s Fisher makes early exit at state tournament


Rayleigh Fisher, a 16-year-old girl, practices on Tuesday at Tuttle High School to become the first girl’s state champion in the 147 pound weight class.

Rayleigh Fisher, Tuttle High School’s first girl wrestler to qualify for the state tournament, lost in the consolation round Thursday, ending her season.

Fisher was pinned in the opening round by Madison Byroads from Henryetta High School, and then lost by major decision to Ciara Franco-Shrum from Jay in the consolation round.

The sophomore finishes her season with a 6-5 record, which included a third-place finish at the 27th Annual Mark Peck Westmoore Open, and a second-place finish at the OSSAA West Girls Regional.

Competing at the state tournament in Oklahoma is something not every wrestler gets to experience.

“It was an experience not to take for granted. It was scary, but it got better after time. It was nerve-racking, and still almost is,” Fisher reflected.

But Fisher has no plans to stop now. “I’m going to work harder, get some help, have more experience by the time next season rolls around and be stronger.”

In a Facebook post, assistant coach Chris Finn remarked how proud he is of Fisher.

“Super proud of Rayleigh Fisher. Didn’t have the result she wanted at the state tournament, but she had a great season and gained a lot of experience. She’s the first ever Tuttle girls wrestling state qualifier. Rayleigh’s laid a great foundation for the future and growth of Tuttle’s girls wrestling.”

Even though Fisher’s state tournament appearance didn’t end the way she hoped, she still appreciates what she got out of this season.

“It was amazing. I benefited from it a lot, I really feel like I did. It was a lot of fun. I’m very glad I did it, and I’m very glad I’m still doing it,” Fisher said.

This report was updated by Eric King on Feb. 25, 2021 at 7:11 pm.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Girl wrestler from Tuttle High School looks to make history

A 16-year-old sophomore from Tuttle High School is seeking to become the first Oklahoma girls wrestling champion in the 147-pound weight class.

Rayleigh Fisher, along with girls in nine other weight classes, will spend Thursday wrestling at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Jim Norick Arena.

Fisher is the first girl to qualify for the state tournament for the Tuttle High School Tigers.  Girls will compete on Thursday beginning at 11:30 a.m.  Semi-finals will begin later in the afternoon, with the championship matches set for Thursday evening.

Tuttle High School’s wrestling program is one of the most decorated in the state. Reminders of their 17 state team championships and 17 state dual championships hang on the walls of the wrestling room, which also includes over 100 individual state champions. Many say the Tigers have accomplished everything possible in wrestling, that is until this year.

Fisher comes from a wrestling family. Her brothers are both wrestlers at Tuttle, and her parents are involved in the sport as well. Being around wrestling since she was in seventh grade only increased Rayleigh’s desire to take up the sport.

So, when the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association announced that girls wrestling would become an officially sanctioned sport in the 2020-21 school year, Rayleigh knew she wanted to compete.

“My little brother Chance got into wrestling, and I’ve always wanted to wrestle since then,” Rayleigh said. “I really wanted to do it, and last year then my parents were like ‘Ok you can start’.”

Even now that Oklahoma has made girls wrestling an official sport, that doesn’t guarantee a big turnout. On the Tuttle team, which has more than 35 wrestlers, Rayleigh is the only girl.

“In the beginning it was a little nerve-racking and a little scary because I didn’t know what they were going to think of me, or if they were going to give me a hard time or bully me,” Rayleigh said. “But they’ve been really supportive, all the boys, the coaches, the town has.”

While Rayleigh competes against girls in tournaments and dual meets, during practices she competes against boys, since she is the only girl on the team. While that does not exactly simulate what her matches will be like, practicing versus the boys has its benefits.

“I do think it helped me become a better wrestler because they’re stronger and they know a lot. They teach me stuff as I go along if I don’t know what to do,” Rayleigh said. “It’s been crazy. I’ve been taught a lot, and I’ve had amazing coaches and then everyone being so supportive, it helped a lot.”

One of those coaches is Bobby Williams, who is the head coach and a former state champion wrestler himself.

Williams is in his first season as head of the program after spending five years as an assistant. He has coached Rayleigh since she took up wrestling and helped lead her to a state tournament berth this season.

“I was really excited, like a kid in a candy shop-type feel,” said Williams. “I think she’s adjusted well, and she’s got everything to gain right now. She has a really good mindset when it comes to wanting to compete and things like that.”

To Williams, the implementation of girls wrestling in Oklahoma is a step in the right direction.

“For the growth of wrestling, it’s super important. In nationwide numbers we see a little up and down, but still inclining numbers. With girls wrestling, it’s a very fast-growing sport. For us to get it sanctioned as its own sport is super important for wrestling as a whole, girls and boys, it helps both,” Williams said.

This report was originally published on Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:36 pm.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.