Wrestling is a very high impact sport and it is extremely tough and hard on an athlete’s body. It is not really surprising that it is primarily linked to being a “boys’ sport”.Although clearly, it is a male-dominated sport, that does not mean that girls cannot compete in it too.
In fact, recently, the wrestling team at AHS has experienced a large growth in female wrestlers. In previous years, there hasn’t even been a single female wrestler but this year there is a total of six girls participating on the team.
“I like the fact that girls feel confident enough to come out and wrestle,” Says Coach Damico, the head varsity wrestling coach, “More and more girls all over the nation are picking up wrestling and I think it’s great that we are ahead of the curve.”
Sophomores Eva Gomez, Nicole Lopez and Breanna Sanchez, and freshman Izzy Teinfalt, Danielle Dean and Alex Cabrera are the girls who are currently on the Annandale wrestling team.
“I tried out for wrestling just for kicks”, freshman Izzy Teinfalt said. “I eventually started conditioning with Coach Klein and slowly fell in love with the atmosphere. When the season started, I really enjoyed it and knew I made the right decision.”
The major growth in girls wrestling isn’t only at AHS, a recent participation survey by the Virginia High School League found that the number of girls competing in wrestling increased 18 percent from 2006-07 to 2015-16.
These increased participation numbers for girls are greater than other NCAA sponsored sports of crew, fencing, skiing, and riflery and in the NCAA emerging sports of rugby, sand volleyball, and horseback riding. In fact, women’s wrestling is reportedly one such as the fastest growing sports at the scholastic and collegiate levels.
Not only have more females started playing the sport, but respect for it at higher levels has increased in the past 15 years. According to the National wrestling coaches association, in 2004 women’s wrestling was recognized as an Olympic sport. 14 states and one US territory now sponsor a state high school championship specifically for girls wrestling.
“Most people would expect that I, as a female, would receive some sort of unfair treatment or discrimination,” Teinfalt said. “But it turns out that all the coaches and other wrestlers are very accepting and treat me no differently, and that really makes it a healthy environment.”
So far, the team has participated in eight meets.
“My record hasn’t been the best this year” Sophomore Eva Gomez, a wrestler on Varsity says, “But I can proudly say that I’ve beaten three boys so far.”
One of the things that make wrestling so unique is that girls wrestle against boys at the wrestling matches simply because there is no team specifically for girls.
Although legally girls can try out for boys team’s, in every other sport at AHS except for football, there are girl’s teams and boy’s teams. Several sports hold co-ed meets, such as track and swimming, but at those competitions, girls compete against other girls and boys compete against other boys.
“I can tell that a lot of my male opponents think that they can beat me really easily,” Gomez says, “All that really does is motivates me to work even harder.”
The team has an upcoming District tournament on Friday, February 1 against Mt. Vernon, Hayfield, T.C. Williams and West Potomac at AHS and they could make it to the region tournament against Fairfax at Fairfax High School on Thursday, Feb. 7.