BUTLER TWP — Trying to keep up with Ana Malovich on the wrestling mat has been quite a challenge in recent months.
For her opponents — and her travel agent.
Since October, the incoming Butler sophomore has competed in female wrestling tournaments in Wisconsin, Iowa, State College (three times), West Virginia, Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma.
Her final event of the summer was last weekend at the 2021 U.S. Marine Corps 16u Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. Competing in the 106-pound weight class, Ana placed fifth out of 36 girls from all over the country.
She won six of her eight matches in earning All-America status.
“Ana is establishing herself as one of the top female wrestlers in her weight class and she's done it through sheer hard work,” Butler High School wrestling coach Scott Stoner said.
“She hasn't been sitting around, waiting for it to come to her. She's been going after it. To be among the best in this sport, you have to put in time on the mat in July, with the heat and humidity ... it can be miserable. Yet she's been doing that.
“I love that girl. I love being around her. She always wants to talk wrestling,” Stoner added.
While in Fargo, Ana faced opponents from Ohio, Colorado, Texas, Washington and Indiana. Her only two losses were by technical fall to Persaeus Gomez of Colorado, who placed third in the tournament.
“She's ranked 18th in the country right now,” Ana said of Gomez. “She was better prepared for the matches than I was. She showed me where I need to get to.”
Ana's six wins came in dominant fashion. Five were by pinfall — four occurring in the first period — with the other coming in the second period. Her other win was by technical fall.
“I was surprised those wins came like that,” she said. “I didn't go there expecting to blow any girls out of the water.”
Two other female wrestlers from Western Pennsylvania — Laurel and Mercer — attained All-America status at Junior Nationals as well.
Prior to going to Fargo, Ana placed second in a folk-style tournament in Iowa and placed third in a tournament at State College.
An injured finger hampered her at some other events.
“I don't use that as an excuse,” Ana declared. “I had to deal with it.”
“That finger looked purple at one point,” Stoner said. “She just keeps on going. She's proven she can handle adversity.”
Ana plans to spend the rest of the summer resting her body while doing some offseason training at a couple of wrestling clubs in the area.
“One-hundred percent, I need that,” Ana said of the rest.
Her mother said Ana's offseason wrestling schedule has not been too taxing on her.
“She knows when to rest,” Jessica Malovich said. “She'll take two weeks off after a tournament to let her body recover.
“This was her first time competing in Fargo. I was happy with the way she handled herself in her matches. She's come a long way.”
Ana has been involved with Butler wrestling since age 5. She started at 106 pounds for the Golden Tornado varsity last year and plans to remain at that weight class her sophomore season.
She isn't shy about her goals for the next high school season.
“The way the section meets were broken down, I didn't go as far as I wanted to last year,” Ana said. “I want to do well in the section meet, get to WPIALs and go from there.”
Butler High School may have a girls wrestling team established by the 2022-23 school year. Stoner believes Ana will be better off staying with the boys team at that point.
“I don't think she's going to get the competition to push her if she goes to the girls team,” he said. “That team will be just starting out and Ana's skills are too advanced.
“She's gotten more confident, she's physically stronger and she has the right mentality. At 106 pounds, I definitely believe Ana can accomplish what she wants with our team.
“She's just another wrestler in the room. She more than holds her own,” Stoner added.