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Girls’ Wrestling Prepares for First Season at FHN

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Girls’ Wrestling Prepares for First Season at FHN

Freshman Nikki McIntosh and Abbie Carpenter spar during wrestling tryouts.

Freshman Nikki McIntosh and Abbie Carpenter spar during wrestling tryouts.

Credit to Riley Witherbee

Freshman Nikki McIntosh and Abbie Carpenter spar during wrestling tryouts.

Credit to Riley Witherbee

Credit to Riley Witherbee

Freshman Nikki McIntosh and Abbie Carpenter spar during wrestling tryouts.

By Joel Boenitz

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The FHN boys’ wrestling program is one of the most prized sports teams in the entire high school. Holding home to 10 individual state champions, there’s not much they can do to further enrich their program. That was until March of 2018, when MSHSAA listed girls’ wrestling as an official high school sport. When FHN announced that they would follow suit and include a girls’ wrestling team for winter sports, six girls, including junior Erin Fleming headed for the mats to practice.

“I wrestled in sixth and seventh grade when I lived up in Fenton, so I was so excited when they announced that there was a girls wrestling team,” Fleming said. “I just want to really try my best and place in certain tournaments. But for now, I want to just try my hardest in practice.”

While this is the first official season in which FHN will have a girls’ wrestling team, this will not be the first time that a girl has suited up and went to the wrestling mats. According to head coach Chris Brown, who has been coaching wrestling for the past 18 years, there have been five years in which girls have been a part of the wrestling team, with only two of the girls those years making it through the entire year, both of them competing in 2001. However, Brown is still excited to see how the girls’ wrestling team impacts not just the team, but also how the FHN community views the wrestling team.

“I think that with girls’ wrestling, I believe more people will be interested to see what it’s all about,” Brown said. “I think it’s great for the sport of wrestling to include girls and let them compete with each other.”

One of the things that Brown is interested to see as the season progresses is how most of the boys’ wrestling team will act with wrestlers of a different gender sharing the mats with them for the first time, as well as how the girls would adapt to the culture. When the season began on Oct. 29, some of the seniors on the team have been working to try and help build the bond between the boys and girls on the team. One of these seniors include Thadeus Meneses. Meneses, who is one of the only members of the team that has wrestled with girls back when he lived in New York, was working with the other seniors to help the girls feel more welcome to the team.

“I think the girls’ wrestling team will help bring diversity to the team,” Meneses said. “I think it’s good to have that to expand wrestling as a whole because it isn’t very known right now.”

While the girls are currently learning the basic moves and wrestling techniques in order to prepare for their first wrestling match on Nov. 29 at FHN, they’ve also been able to bond through their interest for wrestling. Fleming hopes that in the future, more and more girls will grow interest in the sport and eventually join them. But more importantly, Fleming hopes that she will get the opportunity to wrestle some guys from different schools.

“I would absolutely love to wrestle a guy this year,” Fleming said. “They [MSHSAA] have segregated boys and girls sports for so long just because of the differences between us, and I think it would be cool to especially wrestle a guy, instead of playing something like baseball, where you get to give a physical challenge.”

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