MHS wrestling makes moves to expand

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

  MHS is one of the many schools who are seeing an increase in female participation in previously male-dominated sports. Females are now trying out and playing these sports more than ever. Wrestling is one of them. 

  “Girls have always wrestled,” noted MHS Head Wrestling Coach Craig Stocker. “Up until about five or six years ago though, you would only see a few here and there. [The] only difference now is that there are a lot more to work with each day. It’s been great seeing almost every team have at least a few now.”

  Sophomore Samantha Machado joined wrestling this year, but started coming to open mats over the summer. 

  “I decided to do wrestling because it’s a sport that I grew up watching and has been a part of my childhood. I also don’t see a lot of girls joining wrestling, so I thought that maybe if I joined I could encourage more girls to join as well,” said Machado. “Another reason why I joined is that a senior who was in wrestling motivated me to join.”

  With the growing increase in female participation, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) has now given girls wrestling its own state series, which is different from the boys wrestling state series. Previously, they had been combined.

  “[IHSA] last year for the first time created a girls state wrestling series that was separate from the boy’s state series. Prior to last year, girls were on the wrestling team and then you would have boys and girls competing against one another in matches, so last year was the first year that they truly started to separate,” said Athletic Director Troy Parola. “Last year girls could choose [if] they want to stay wrestling the boys state series or [if] they want to go and wrestle the girls state series.”

  Currently, MHS is still a co-ed wrestling program. However, with the increase in girls coming to join the team, the program hopes to grow enough to separate into two different teams: a boys wrestling team and a girls wrestling team.

  “We treat our girls like another level. We have freshman, JV, varsity, and now a girls level, that we are able to schedule separate meets and tournaments for,” Stocker said. “[The IHSA girls’ wrestling state series] was a huge success. I do believe Girls Wrestling will be separate (just like Boys/Girls Basketball) in the near future.”

  Before the start of the transition to two separate programs, this year MHS wrestling is going to be bringing in a new wrestling coach to help out with all the new participation within the program.

  “We do have someone who is going to be taken forward and approved at the next board meeting,” said Parola. “This is not necessarily what we’d say is “head girls wrestling coach” eventually, but yes, we have a person we’re bringing on board.”

  The future of the MHS wrestling program is looking bright. The current members of wrestling and coaches all encourage anyone and everyone to try out for wrestling. Wrestling is a unique sport, and many note you never know if you’ll like it if you never try,

  “I encourage any and every girl to try a sport whether that’s wrestling or not. Don’t let your nerves get to you and stop you from joining a sport that you are interested in because you might regret it later in your life,” said Machado. “Don’t be afraid to try something new, we all start somewhere.”