GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Two female wrestlers from Winterville’s South Central High School are the first from Pitt County Schools to be qualifiers in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Women’s Wrestling Invitational State Championship.

Ninth graders Zainab Hijawi and Zedya Mitchell said they were excited to take their skills to state. Wrestling is a sport where you get knocked down again and again. But that does not stop Zainab and Zedya.

Both joined the team for different reasons.

“My brother started wrestling last year. From that point, I was like ‘I kind of like that sport, should I try? Should I not?’ It took a lot of convincing my mom to let me try it,” said Zainab.

“I wanted to do a winter sport. I was like ‘It’s between basketball and wrestling.’ And I was like, ‘I did basketball, I’m going to try wrestling’,” said Zedya.

Wrestling is a sport that requires both physical and mental toughness.

“Don’t be afraid of who is put in front of you, you’ve got to be mentally and physically strong. You just go to have the courage, and you just got to go out and do it, you just got to try,” Zedya said.

While wrestling may be a male-dominated sport, Zedya said she does not see it that way.

“The way I was raised, it was like, whether you’re a male or female, you can do it, so that’s kind of how I view sports,” Zedya said.

Zainab is also the first wrestler to compete at state wearing a hijab, something she said was an honor.

“Honestly, it’s amazing because it represents me and my religion as a Muslim,” Zainab.

Both wrestlers said they could not do it without the other.

“She is one of my main supporters when it comes to wrestling,” said Zedya.

“She’s amazing, she pushes me through even though it’s difficult and I love her,” Zainab said.

As for advice for future female wrestlers?

“I have got great advice, you got to be mentally and physically ready. It’s going to be hard, but girl, push through, you got this,” Zainab said.

Hijawi participated in the 100-pound division while Mitchell participated in the 132-pound division. The state tournament was held this weekend in Greensboro.

Jeulenea Khang of Freedom won over Hijawi (20-9) by fall in 3:21. Brianna Deleon of Weddington (18-0) won by fall over Mitchell (9-21) in 52 seconds.