Pin it to win it: The rise of girls wrestling

design: DJ Pelles
photos: Emily Duvall

With another amazing end to the season, girls wrestling wraps up its third season. The girls finished third in the state and won the 2022 State Dual Meet. Everyone on the team work year round to prepare for a long-lasting season.

With team captains senior Lexi Sisson, senior Aida Walters, junior Emily McManus and sophomore Surraiya Mahmud to lead the team throughout the season to another strong finish.

This year there were five state placers on the team: junior Alicia Coleman, fourth place; sophomore Kascidy Garren, fifth place; Simmons, fifth place; Mahmud, fifth place; and junior Talia Mitchell, fifth place according to the Orange Athletics Twitter.

The rise of girls wrestling across the country has allowed girls to compete in the same sports as boys and encourages inclusivity. This not only means more options for girls but also is empowering for young women to end the stigma that contact sports, like wrestling, were strictly for men.

“It’s important to have more girls sports like this to open up equal opportunities and to ‘break down’ the barrier that has been put in place,” McManus said.

The mental aspect of wrestling lets the players grow into themselves and the team that is formed. Girls wrestling, being newer to Orange and schools across the country, can create uncertainty for those who haven’t participated yet.

“It’s so important for more girls to try these sports because of how empowering it is. You gain so much confidence in yourself mentally when you do a sport like this where you have to overcome the anxiety and self-doubt,” s   enior Taylor Hill said.

Only one teammate had wrestling experience prior to high school, so most of the team has grown from square one to accomplish everything they have. The team is close from its intense training and long preseason.

“What I enjoy most about the sport is the team atmosphere that comes along with it. Unlike any other sport I have ever played, the team is super close like a big family and I have met most of my best friends through this team,” McManus said.

Starting from scratch, the coaching staff has worked diligently to ensure they are getting more people to try out wrestling and make them feel comfortable in a new environment. A good portion of the team initially started to stay in shape for other sports but have since learned to love wrestling itself.

“Our coaches have done an amazing job of making it feel no different to us than any other sport. To us, it doesn’t feel like a growing sport until you see the state’s pictures from the previous years and see how many more girls there are,” McManus said.

The girls on the team feel accomplished with their growth and always strive to be the best they can be so a third place finish left some of the team feeling disappointed. Head Coach Brain Nicola was proud of the team regardless though.

“Nobody was really happy with third, but if I’m honest it was a good weekend and we wrestled really well. A lot of girls really stepped up during their matches; I was happy with their effort,” Nicola said.

Overall the impressive regular season as well as the state’s results have left the program with more success and pride. The end of the season can be tough for some as the close nature of the team may change due to the seniors leaving.

“The season as a whole was fantastic. It was a lot better than last year, as the team is a lot better, there is no drama and the way the team bonded this year really brought up the vibes of everyone. The season coming to an end was very emotional; all the friendships and bonds we had together are breaking apart with the seniors leaving,” Coleman said.