2022 RHAM graduate Emma Heslin will join the inaugural female wrestling team at Western New England. Heslin is flanked by her mother Andrea Tatasciore to her left and brother Jackson Heslin and father Matt Heslin to her right.
Emma Heslin, who became the first female wrestler in RHAM High School history to win a state championship, will continue to wrestle at Western New England University (WNE).
When she first steps on the mats at WNE, she will again be making history as a member of the school’s inaugural female wrestling team –– which will debut this winter.
“I really liked how I’ll be part of the first woman’s program at the school,” Heslin said about choosing the Golden Bears in Springfield, Mass. “I loved the coach and the campus. It has good vibes and it’s small, but it’s not too small.”
Heslin’s ascent to collegiate wrestling was quick. She had participated in club wrestling previously, but didn’t wrestle in high school until this past winter.
RHAM wrestling head coach Ryan Fitch said he tried to get Heslin to join the team for a couple of years and once she finally did, she made a significant impact on and off the mat.
“She was an inspiration to our team. They rallied around her and she was the cohesive figure that got everyone together,” recalled Fitch.
Despite only wrestling at the school for one year, her name is forever etched in RHAM’s record books after defeating Southington’s Elena Quintaro to win the girls’ State Open championship in the 99-pound weight division on February 27.
Her brother Jackson Heslin, who wrestles for Xavier High School, also won a state championship at the State Open. The Heslins, who live in Marlborough, became the first pair of siblings to win high school wrestling titles on the same day in the state’s history.
She said the championship was fantastic, yet is just the beginning to what she hopes are more years of success.
“It feels good, but it’s in the past. It doesn’t mean anything when I step out on the mat the next time,” added Heslin. “I’m working towards more championships at Western New England, and to make it on the banners and make my mark there.”
She added that her one season of high school wrestling was unforgettable, adding, “I love my team so much. We have such a good close bond and I will miss them so much. I don’t think I’ll ever be on a team like that again”
Fitch said that he knew of Heslin’s potential coming into last winter and, despite her lack of experience, could sense her championship potential.
“We thought she had a real good chance because of her strength. She was wrestling girls that wrestled at 130 [pounds] and persevered through it,” recalled Fitch.
Heslin wrestled “folk style” in high school and will transition to “freestyle” in college. Thanks to club wrestling, she is used to wrestling both styles.
Fitch said that Heslin has unique power for her size and that strength should allow her to excel in college. He added that committing to wrestling 12-months a year and the work she put in this year will also go a long way.
Heslin will study business as she looks to add to her short, yet already accomplished wrestling resume.
“I want to grind and take [wrestling] more seriously,” Heslin said about her goal at WNE. “Being new I have a lot more drive and dedication for it. I really want to see how far and I can take it.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin