12 Intimate, Intense Portraits Of High School Girls Wrestlers

Photographer Aaron Lavinsky captures the faces — and bruises — of young competitors at a tournament in western Washington.

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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com

Girls in Washington state have been wrestling competitively on a state level since 2004 — according to The Daily World in Aberdeen, Wash., the sport grows every year.

These wrestlers were photographed on Feb. 8, between their matches at the Subregion 5 tournament in Hoquiam, Wash., where some advanced to regionals.

Aaron Lavinsky, a staff photojournalist at The Daily World, said in an email that he wanted to capture “the minor details; the bruises, bloody noses, and black eyes juxtaposed with stylish caps, eyeliner and manicured nails.”

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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com
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Aaron Lavinsky / The Daily World / Via thedailyworld.com

More on the photo shoot from Lavinsky:

“Over the past few years I’ve probably shot hundreds of high school, college and professional sporting events, but it wasn’t until recently that I learned high school girls’ wrestling existed. It’s a sport that hasn’t caught on yet throughout most of the country, but here in Western Washington, it has rapidly grown over the past few years to the point where we have a state championship with more than 100 schools participating.”

Before taking on this portrait series, I covered a few local girls’ wrestling meets, including the first ever girls-only meet between our town’s big Aberdeen-Hoquiam rivals. While photographing the action itself is interesting, I found the most striking photos were the minor details; the bruises, bloody noses, and black eyes juxtaposed with stylish caps, eyeliner and manicured nails. These were photos I wouldn’t be able to make while photographing the match, so I decided to set up a portrait area in an empty room next to the high school gym during the next meet. All of these girls were photographed between tournament matches. Some had just won or lost, but all of them competed with ferocity.”

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