Making History: Meet Austyn Kump, Girls Wrestling State Champion


Nate McEvoy

Austyn Kump, winner of the first-ever NH individual girls state wrestling tournament.

Aiden C. Barker

Austyn Kump, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School (HBHS), had never wrestled in her life. Sure, she had watched others wrestle for her own school and the occasional boxing scene in a Hollywood film, but she never imagined that in just one season she would become the first-ever young woman from HBHS to win a state wrestling championship. How did Kump go from having zero wrestling experience to becoming a state wrestling champion in a male-dominated sport in just a couple of months? 

A standout athlete, Kump has played softball since she was 5 years old and is now co-captain of the HBHS girls softball team and a New Hampshire Division II all-state pitcher. She also holds leadership positions in several clubs, is a member of student council, and is student body president, and she balances these activities with keeping up with her academics and making time to hit the weight room. But Kump felt that if she wanted to attain her dream of attending West Point Academy, she needed another component on her resume to give her an edge. 

While Kump was sitting in the bleachers at an HB home wrestling match last year, some of the wrestling coaches, including Coach Brian Bumpus, approached Kump and asked if she was interested in joining the team. Kump jokingly agreed and pushed it off like she had the previous year when the idea of her joining the team arose. But this time, Kump seriously considered the invitation.

“I can do this myself,” Kump said when she got home that night. She never thought she’d be the one on the mat rather than spectating the ones on the mat, but after talking it over with her mom and thinking about it a bit more, Kump decided to give it a shot. She went from saying “I’m never going to do this” to now stepping onto the mat as a wrestler, a major turnaround for Kump.

At the start of the wrestling season, the coaches had each of the wrestlers write down an individual goal they wanted to attain by the end of the season. Kump jokingly wrote down, “Be a girls state champion and win a match.” However, once the season got underway and the wins started accumulating for Kump, she and her coaches realized that this goal was achievable. 

When practices began, Kump was paired up with the only other female wrestler on the team, but because Kump was a fast learner and quickly excelled, the coaches soon put her up against her male teammates. Her most frequent practice opponent has been freshman Jacob Critchfield, who is in the same weight class as Kump. Critchfield helped her learn many different moves throughout the season, and with the coaches’ help, she also learned some take-down moves to use against other female wrestlers. 

“Trying to break down a guy is a lot different than a girl,” Kump said. However, that didn’t stop her and the coaches from pushing her to keep learning.

“Austyn took to wrestling and the technique right away,” said Bumpus. “It usually takes new wrestlers about one year before things really start to click, and we were talking about how quickly she was picking up on things after the first day of practice. Her athleticism and willingness to learn something new really came into play.” 

Bumpus added how even before the season started, he and the other coaches saw great potential in her, as they knew Kump is “an outstanding athlete and a true competitor.”

Kump explained how the coaches put a lot of work into training and she put a lot of work back into it. The coaches saw that she had plenty of room to improve early on and they made sure to harness that potential as the season progressed. At times, Kump would take a shot in a match and begin to feel uncomfortable, wanting to back out. Her coaches were able to help her get back on track by encouraging her not to give up, to keep fighting and pushing.

“We really just tried to put a positive spin on everything that was happening and keep looking at every bump in the road as a learning experience and a step towards being the best you can be,” said Bumpus. “Austyn found herself wrestling against some really tough opponents throughout the season, but I think her own self-motivation was key in keeping her focused and moving forward.”

Kump’s success this season can be attributed not only to her raw talent and the support from her coaches, but also to her teammates. 

“They were in it too, they all wanted to win,” Kump explained. No one got frustrated with her when she couldn’t do a move or asked a question about something. If she had a question  then she’d get an answer; no one would ignore her. 

Kump also learned early on that she needs to stay hyped for matches, especially when there’s a long wait from weigh-in to match time. So before every match, she drinks a Red Bull and listens to her new favorite song, “Low Rider” by WAR. 

Before the state championship, she weighed in at 8:00 a.m. and didn’t wrestle until 2:00 p.m. With hours to go before her match, she walked and jumped around frequently to keep the adrenaline from draining. She has found that adrenaline is the big key to keeping her from losing strength during her matches, especially while she’s getting pinned. 

“In the beginning of the season I was hurt, so I came into the first [match] just getting back against a girl, and that one I learned that adrenaline’s going to run out,” said Kump. 

There are currently 37 states in the U.S. that recognize girls wrestling, and New Hampshire will soon become the 38th. There are not enough female wrestlers in each school to break up coed teams into separate boys and girls teams, but the NHIAA’s addition of the first-ever individual girls state wrestling tournament this season, which Kump won, is a major step in having the girls’ sport recognized statewide. 

“I don’t care about the stereotypes, I’m here to compete,” Kump said. “It’s great to see it [female wrestling] growing.” She worked with some male wrestlers before the season began, and at first she felt they were a little self-conscious not to go too hard on her. But once they realized she can take it and give it back, her relationship with her male teammates slowly developed into one of camaraderie and mutual respect.

As Kump prepares to graduate from HBHS with a historic performance and achievement of winning the first-ever NH Girls Wrestling State Championship, Coach Bumpus sends her off with some final words of praise:

“Austyn is one of the hardest working and quickest learning athletes I have had the pleasure of working with,” he said. “Even when things got tough and she could have easily walked out the door, she kept moving forward and kept pushing herself past her limits. The fact that she accomplished what she accomplished, in such a short period of time on the mat, is a testament to not only the type of athlete she is, but who she is as a person as well. She is truly one-of-a-kind and she both earned and deserved the accolades that she achieved.”