Girls wrestling popularity surges

High school sport sees a 250% increase in participation since 2010, and still rising

Test+of+Strength%3A+Sophomore+Jenessa+Serrano+%28left%29+grap-+ples+with+an+opposing+wrestler%2C+successfully+gaining+the+upper+hand+in+a+match+and+leading+to+a+takedown.

Horace Peyton

Test of Strength: Sophomore Jenessa Serrano (left) grap- ples with an opposing wrestler, successfully gaining the upper hand in a match and leading to a takedown.

Lilly Lim, Co-Editor-in-Chief

After a friend’s encouragement to join the girls wrestling team, sophomore Jenessa Serrano did not know how much her life was going to change. The sport quickly consumed her life, igniting a passion she had never known before.

“I like the variety and the ability to grow as quickly as the amount of work you put in,” Serrano, now a sophomore, said of her wrestling experience.

Serrano says that wrestling has also helped her become more socially comfortable.

“Meeting a bunch of people and being able to express myself without being nervous was definitely a confidence booster,” Serrano said.

Serrano says that wrestling is 70% a mental sport and 30% physical. The mental aspect consists of wanting to see certain re- sults that often take time to develop.

“Even sometimes when you know you are trying you feel as if nothing is going your way,” Serrano said. “[The work] gets repet- itive after awhile, getting the same results even after working 15 plus hours a week.”

Another mental aspect is weight cutting. Serrano says one of the biggest reasons behind weight cutting is to become lighter in wrestling which inherently makes her faster and stronger. However, the process of cutting weight is not easy and involves a delicate balancing act.

Because of those factors, Serrano considers wrestling more of a mental test for confidence than a physical test of strength.

Before every match, Serrano goes through a ritual.

“I have my friend Alaina or Maya braid my hair — either one is fine, but it has to be one of them,” Serrano said. “When we are about to start the match, I take myself near the out of bounds line and take a really big breath, look up at the lights and shake my arm.”

In addition to wrestling, Serrano is also on the water polo and swim teams.

“After swim practice, I would go straight to wrestling for two hours,” Serrano said. “I would wrestle at different schools throughout the week so Mondays were in Antioch, Tues- days and Thursdays were at BC, and Wednesdays were at Stagg.”

Although girls wrestling has steadily increased in participation over the years, boys wrestling has declined.

“This winter, more than half of U.S. states will have a high school wrestling tournament for girls — either an official one, a pilot test or one run by a coaches’ association,” senior sports reporter Rachel Bachman said in a “Wall Street Journal” article titled “High School Wrestling Was Fading — Then Came the Girls.” “The sport got another boost last summer, when an NCAA committee recommended adding women’s wrestling to its list of emerging sports, the last step before a sport becomes official.”