Wrestle like a girl

Female wrestlers are paving the way for a new era of high school wrestling


Ryder Harris

Freshman Kyla Johnson teaches new wrestlers how to do a specific technique on bottom to prepare for the upcoming season. Johnson will fill the starting roll at the 113 pound weight class for the Cards.

In a predominantly male sport, the struggle to make a name for herself and become part of the team is something junior AnnaMae Mosconi has experienced since participating in wrestling.

“As a female you have to work harder, put more work in to be a part of the team and get to the goals you want to get to,” Mosconi said.

This, along with many other challenges that athletes may face may be the leading cause of why women’s wrestling is just starting to break through, especially at SHS.

In the U.S., there are nearly 245 thousand male high school wrestlers, according to Statista. However, there are only just over 14 thousand females. 

And this trend doesn’t stop at SHS, where there are four women on the wrestling team compared to 25 men.

Head wrestling coach Nick Skinner and athletic director Brian Murphy have noticed and welcomed the increase of women in the program.

“Good girls in the program competing nationally is the goal,” Skinner said. “We want to coach state champs and national champions.”

Freshman Kyla Johnson is new to the SHS high school wrestling program but not the sport. In middle school, Johnson went undefeated. Not only did she go undefeated, she also went unscored upon in all matches. If she is able to make the 113 pound weight class, then she will be the first girl’s varsity wrestler for the team in recent years.

Mosconi is another member of the SHS Cards wrestling team. She first started her career because her family is filled with wrestlers. With four of her brothers making it to state, wrestling is something she has been around her whole life. Not only are her brothers wrestlers, but her dad is also a wrestling coach, and her mom is an Olympic level referee. 

Mosconi has already noticed the changes in women’s wrestling as it’s one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. 

“The community has grown,” Mosconi said. “Womens wrestling has brought a lot of opportunities to the upcoming females in middle school and high school.”

Junior Hailey Bowman, another member of the SHS wrestling team, started out in the wrestling club in February during her sophomore year. She then joined the team the next year as a junior. 

For her, wrestling is less of a sport and more of a new way to express herself.

“It’s kind of my outlet for letting out the happiness, stress relief and anger,” Bowman said.

The program has continued to grow in past years due to the fact that they are welcoming wrestlers every year. 

”I think the program has continued to grow and get better every year,” Murphy said. “The girls have, like every other wrestler, increased the number and that increases the quality.”

A girls team would be a good addition to the SHS sports roster because it could cause it to grow in popularity, according to Murphy. Along with this, a team of all girls would help the girls bond, because they won’t have the gender barrier. 

“Right now, they don’t have their own sport. That is their greatest challenge,” Skinner said. “They need their own sport so they have a fair opportunity to compete.”

Girls wrestling has come a long way, but the final piece is to make it an officially sanctioned sport in Indiana. The IHSAA doesn’t recognize it, but it is recognized in 32 other states, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association. While there are many participants and the sport is growing, one of their many problems is the overall lack of women participating in the sport.

“It may be a male dominated sport, but if we really want to put the work into it, then it is possible we can get more girls.” Bowman said.

The Cards are already making big strides to become a better team. Jumping from one girl to four is a big leap in female numbers. Making a name for oneself in a male dominated sport is tough, but the female SHS wrestlers are proving that it is possible. The Lady Cards are going to have a great season.

“People need to come out to the wrestling events,” Murphy said,” I really do think it is going to be a good winter.”