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Participation in girls wrestling reaches record high

Newer members bring a renewed energy to the team

Keely Carolan, Copy Editor
Originally published January 15, 2019

Bruce MiyakeCaptain, senior Kayla Rogers, goes over sophomore Zoe Burnstead's first match.

Bruce Miyake

Captain, senior Kayla Rogers, goes over sophomore Zoe Burnstead’s first match.

In what is traditionally a male-dominated sport, the wrestling team continues to break stereotypes as this year, female participation is higher than ever. What started out a few years ago with just one girl on the team (senior Kayla Rogers) has since blossomed into an intense and growingly diverse community of people who share common goals.

This season the team has around 27 members total, including seven girls. The coed sport does not separate when it comes to practice or competitions. As new recruits sophomore Ava Olsen and junior Jasper Swift point out, this is one of the things that brings the team closer together.

“What we’re doing is very physical,” Olsen said. “You have to be able to work with the people on your team pretty well. The girls on the team especially, because this isn’t something that girls normally do. Out of most sports we’re probably the closest group of girls on a team.”

Wrestling is not an easy sport. It requires a special kind of grit to willingly put yourself in a situation where the goal is to physically take down your opponent. “Everyone is really dedicated, everyone works super hard,” Swift said. “Everyone has this mentality of wanting to be the best that they can be, so everyone tries super hard at practice. No one’s going easy…It’s not a ‘slack off’ sport at all.”

The intensity of the sport, along with the time commitment, makes wrestling a little different from the atmosphere that you get with most school sports. “It’s gratifying because you work so hard every day,” Swift said. “When you finish, you feel so good about yourself. You’re like, ‘I just beat people up for an hour and a half and then I ran!’ Nothing makes you feel any happier.”

Coach Jared Daniels has been with the team for the past four years, and has described the season as an emotional one–the seniors that are graduating this year were his first group of freshmen when he started coaching. One of his goals when growing the program here was to start out by building a bigger girls team.

“I felt like if the girls were really successful, and they can be right away, that the boys would kind of follow,” Daniels said. “I think this year we have a chance to do that, because we have some strong young ladies…This is something that everybody can take with them in their future. It makes them stronger, and it builds an ‘I can’ attitude.”

Daniels pointed out how seniors like Kayla Rogers have been pivotal in recruiting more members, along with the team’s current managers, former wrestlers Sam Swainson and Elle Murray.

“They have been the best managers, they have just been huge for us. Sometimes [wrestling] is not for everyone, but they loved the environment, the family, and the sport, and they wanted to still be around it so that’s how they’re doing it.”

It doesn’t take long for new members to become enveloped in the infectious energy that the team brings. “I feel like we’re all very there for each other,” Olsen said. “It’s a diverse group of people, so it helps you to sort of see different walks of life just from being on the team and having those connections with new people.”

This community, along with the sense of self-ownership that wrestling grants its participants, is a large reason why so many people are drawn to it. “I think that young women are more drawn to a sport like wrestling these days than they ever have been,” Daniels said. “When I was in high school we would have one or two come out every year. It was definitely not common.”

Though Daniels says that the season has been a productive one so far, and the team has won eight of their ten league meets so far. Don’t miss senior night on January 22, where the team will be competing against Roosevelt.

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Participation in girls wrestling reaches record high