Frankie Curtis was simply looking for the lesser of two choices.

When a classmate suggested she give up football her freshman year to try wrestling, Curtis pondered the idea.

“I was thinking it couldn’t be as bad as football practice,” said Curtis, who had played football as a seventh- and eighth-grader. “I was like, ‘Football practice is a lot harder than this.’ Other than that, I probably would have gone to basketball.”

It proved to be a pretty savvy career move for the Oak Hill senior. Earlier this month, Curtis placed third in her weight class at the United States Girls’ Wrestling Association Nationals and was named an USGWA/Wrestling USA Magazine All-American.

“I would never have thought that going into it my freshman year,” said Curtis. “There was no way I thought that was possible.”

As unlikely as it seemed that a freshman rookie wrestler could become an All-American by her sennior year, it proved a reality for the determined athlete from Sabattus.

After winning the 165-pound weight class in the New Englands in late March, she and teammate Hanna Severy went to Livonia, Mich., for the nationals March 31 and April 1. The two had already reached their pinnacle, as far as they were concerned. Both were ranked nationally in the preseason and went to nationals hoping to match those rankings. Curtis was ranked eighth and Severy was 10th.

“When we first found out we were going to be in the USA Wrestling Magazine because we were ranked in the preseason, we were so ecstatic,” said Curtis. “We could not believe that happened to us. Then we were like, ‘We have to go to nationals now because we’re ranked, and we might as well just show them.’ Then to get what we got, we could not believe it. Two little girls from a small town in Maine go and get nationally ranked.”

Curtis pinned her first opponent in Michigan. Her second match featured the top-seeded wrestler in her class. It was her only loss but a hard-fought battle.

“I thought I did fairly well against her,” said Curtis. “I only lost by one point. I felt that I did the best I could do against that girl. She was so muscular. There was no way I was beating her.”

It put Curtis in the loser’s bracket, but she kept winning. Her mother, Linda, had accompanied her, and when the wins kept coming, Frankie made it clear she didn’t plan on losing.

“I looked at my mom and told her there was no way I was going home and not getting third,” she said. “I’m getting third, and I’m showing (Oak Hill athletic director) Mr. Fairchild that I can do it.”

Curtis reached the consolation final. She was losing to Adele Kurt of Texas until the 3:39 mark. Kurt was the Texas state champion with a 33-0 record and 28 pins this year.

“I was losing pretty much the whole match, then I turned it around in the third period,” said Curtis. “Within about 30 seconds of the third period, I pinned her. That’s basically how all my matches go.”

The victory was so swift and sudden, Curtis didn’t even believe it herself.

Curtis was unaware that finishing in the top eight in her class would earn All-American honors. She’ll be recognized in the May 30th issue of Wrestling USA Magazine.

Severy finished 11th in the 152-pound class.

Curtis had never considered the sport until she was urged to join by former Oak Hill wrestler Nikole Lemay, who was the first female to qualify for the Maine Class B state meet.

“I’d never even seen a wrestling match before,” Curtis said.

Severy soon joined the fold and became Curtis’ partner for four years.

“It was extremely tough,” said Curtis. “I could not believe people actually did this. It was incredibly hard. People were so muscular, and I was just a little fat kid on the team.”

Curtis said her goal was just to survive and not get herself killed that first year. No matter how hard it was, she never contemplated quitting. Instead, she got better. She steadily improved after winning one match her first year. This past season, Curtis won six competing mostly against boys. She had just one match against a female in Maine.

“If you get a girl that’s fairly flexible, she’s harder to pin,” said Curtis. “Guys are a lot easier to pin because they’re less flexible. They’re less likely to get out of a move.”

Most of the time her only matches with girls came at open tournaments in other states or at the New England meet. Curtis and Severy competed in 10 open tournaments during their career.

It was her first trip to the national championships. There were eight girls from Maine, and they finished 11th as a team out of 38 states.

“The other girls tournaments we’d gone to were kind of little, but there were 701 girls, I believe,” said Curtis, who will join the Army after graduation in June. “We’d never seen that many girls at one place at one time. We didn’t know where we were going to be seeded or what was going on.”

Despite the distracting atmosphere, they were all business on the wrestling mat.

“It was kind of hard to focus, but once the wrestling started, we both were in the mindset that this was our one chance. We have to prove what we can do.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.