Raritan High School senior Mia Lazaurs always said she was going to be a state wrestling champion. Even before New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association administrators sanctioned girls wrestling as a high school sport three years ago, Lazaurs was determined to outduel the boys on the mat and win a state title.
Lazaurs, who has been wrestling since she was in the sixth grade at the Hazlet Middle School, dreamed of being a state champion.
On April 10, Lazaurs reached her goal when she won the 215-pound crown at the NJSIAA state tournament at Phillipsburg High School.
In the championship bout, Lazaurs faced Bloomfield High School’s Gianna Faura. As the first period neared its conclusion, Lazaurs put Faura on her back and secured the pin with one second left in the period to win her first state title.
Lazaurs said was so happy and proud of herself for accomplishing what she said she would do.
“It feels really good. I knew once I got her on her back that I was in good shape. I had to hold on and not let go and I was able to pin her,” the Rockets’ standout said.
Lazaurs is Raritan’s second state champion in three years. In 2019, Cristine Gavasheli won the school’s first girls state title when she defeated Angelina Romero of Notre Dame High School to win the 118-pound crown.
That same year, 2019, Lazaurs competed in the 185-pound state final, but lost to Erin Emery of Teaneck High School and came home with the silver medal.
That loss to Emery is something Lazaurs said still eats at her today and was her source of motivation in 2020 to make it back to the state final and win the gold medal. However, an ankle injury derailed Lazaurs, who was unable to get medical clearance in time for the regional tournament.
The time away from the wrestling mat had a silver lining for Lazaurs because she was able to heal all the bumps and bruises she had sustained over the years and to prepare herself for a championship run as a senior.
Coach Christopher Villa helped Lazaurs reach her goal. Villa has been a part of the Raritan wrestling program for 15 years and this season he took on the duties of being the girls coach.
Having worked with Lazaurs since she was in middle school, Villa was pleased to have the opportunity to coach her toward a state title.
“Getting to a state final was the goal from Day One,” Villa said. “I always knew how talented Mia was. It’s such a satisfying feeling to see an athlete accomplish their goal.”
Raritan’s Chloe Wong placed sixth at 107 pounds at the state tournament to give the Rockets two state medalists in 2021.
The fact that Raritan has produced three state medalists and two state champions in three years proves to Villa that the program is at the “forefront” of girls high school wrestling in New Jersey.
“We have worked well at making our girls program just as good as the boys program,” Villa said. “Just like when I coached the boys, I made sure we had structure and focused on winning the day. Hopefully, this success can continue.”
For Lazaurs, the unpredictability of the 2021 season because of the coronavirus pandemic had her a little sad since she was not certain what would happen when the season began.
As the season progressed and the time came to compete in the region tournament on April 3 at Williamstown High School, Lazaurs was ready to roll and cruised to winning a second regional title.
In the state tournament at Phillipsburg, Lazaurs recorded pins in the first two rounds to reach the final, where the stage was set for her to conclude her high school career with a victory and to gain a measure of redemption for her loss in 2019.
Just as she told her friends for years that she was going to be a state champion, Lazaurs lived up to her words by pinning her third opponent of the day to win the 215-pound title.
“I swore to people that I was going to be a state champion and I actually did it. I am so happy and honored to have learned from the coaches I have had at Raritan and being a part of this program,” she said.