As the high school wrestling season wraps up after another successful state series, the future of the sport itself has officially opened its doors to new levels of competition. Check out the latest feature story, presented by Edward Medical Group.
“I’m really honored I feel kinda like respected. It was really exciting too.”
On February 12th, 2021, Naperville Central along with four other high schools across the State of Illinois were the sites of a historic weekend for the IHSA. For the first time ever, the IHSA held the girls wrestling state series, with female wrestlers finally earning a chance to bring home state hardware.
Now this isn’t the first-time these women have stepped into the wrestling room. In fact, many wrestling teams were fortunate enough to have a lady grappler or two with the guys over the years. Some wrestling coaches will also take the time to start local wrestling clubs just for the girls themselves, in addition to co-ed clubs.
Girls’ wrestling has been rapidly expanding at both the youth and even the collegiate levels in recent years. Even locally, North Central College began its first women’s wrestling program in November of 2019 and now fields one of the strongest teams in the country. Now with the numbers growing on the high school level, many coaches are hopeful that more local teams will be able to develop full girls wrestling programs as the sport expands.
“This allows teams to promote women’s wrestling even greater and hopefully get the numbers even higher and I think that with the expansion of a state series and now having an actual women’s wrestling teams I think it’s gonna lead to a lot more.”
Naperville Central and Metea Valley had a combined three wrestlers’ walk onto the mat for the sectional meet and regardless of the results; it was a night full of lessons and opportunities for these contestants.
“I was excited to see all the girls in like one spot and like see how many girls were and all the different schools” “this sport for like females is getting somewhere because it’s usually male dominated and stuff and I’m really excited that like a lot of us can connect to like other female wrestlers and like get the opportunity to wrestle them and like be more comfortable in that sport.”
One of those upcoming female wrestlers is Dezi Azar a member of the Naperville Wrestling Club. Azar a defending state champ in the IKWF in the 102-pound has punched her ticket back to state after winning a regional and taking second place in the sectionals. The population growth of girls wrestling has brought excitement to the future Naperville Central wrestler and is encourage other women to step out of their comfort zone and hit the grappling level.
“let’s encourage girls because there’s not a lot of girls in this state and I just want them to show boys that girls can do just like how boys can but even better” “I’ve been into the sport for a while it’s very like it’s making me feel more powerful and supportive to other and that’s where we’re trying to encourage so we see more girls out so that’s why were trying to get any girls possible it’s a really exciting and it’s a great feeling to see that”
Now with the state series about three weeks up from competition, February of 2022 will be remembered as the start of an exciting future for the wrestling room on both the boys and girl’s side.
“I hope that it’s more tailored to us and because like guys have like different advantages and stuff I hope it’s more tailored and like where we even if we go against like guys we can use there strength their power to our advantage.” And with women’s wrestling so popular from young girls all the way up to college wrestling now a lot of teams are starting college wrestling teams I think it’s important for them to have their own state series I think it’s important for them to have every opportunity that anybody else would have in this sport.”
For Naperville Sports Weekly, I’m Patrick Codo.
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