South Jersey wrestling sisters inspire girls to join the sport

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Saturday, January 14, 2023
South Jersey wrestling sisters inspire girls to join the sport
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Siblings are known to butt heads occasionally. Brynn and Keira Cunningham do it best on the wrestling mat.

UPPER TOWNSHIP, New Jersey (WPVI) -- "There has to be like two people in a sport. You have to have someone to make you better," said Brynn Cunningham from Sea Isle, New Jersey. "For me, that person is my sister."

Brynn, 11, might be older than her sister. But 9-year-old Keira Cunningham started wrestling with the Upper Township Green Hornets first.

"Still, some people say it's not a sport for girls," said Keira. "But we show that you can do anything boys can do."

Keira first showed interest in the sport at the age of 5 after seeing her male cousin participate. After trying it out herself, she was hooked.

Brynn was apprehensive about joining her sister at first, but after seeing the newcomer's accomplishments, she wanted to try it out herself.

"When my sister first started, there were only like, three girls on the team," said Brynn. "And now there's 23."

Both girls have proven their worth at local, state, and national tournaments. Each has secured state finals victories in their weight classes.

Most recently, Keira placed first for Girls 9U 75 lbs in the Annual Kick Off Classic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That victory accomplished a third of her dream, which is to become a Trinity Award winner. She will have to topple the upcoming Tulsa Nationals and Reno Worlds tournaments to earn the difficult title. After that, Keira has he sights set on high school, college, and olympic-level wrestling.

But win or lose, both sisters are making their family and community proud.

"Watching them as a dad, it's crazy," said their father, Joe Cunningham. "I wrestled growing up, but they already are significantly more accomplished than I ever was."

Another coach, Jerry Stroh, has been with the Upper Township Green Hornets since the 1980s. He credits the Cunningham sisters with helping to grow the sport.

"They're helping a lot, bringing more girls in because they see how much they won, their trophies, and the girls are like, 'I can do that,'" said Stroh.

To learn more about Upper Township Green Hornets wrestling, visit their website.

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