Wrestling isn’t just for boys

Marissa Gaslin, Student Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Neil Jennissen, a Physical Education teacher at Cambridge-Isanti High School, is attempting to start something that may seem unconventional to people not familiar with the sport of Wrestling. Mr. Jennissen is the wrestling coach for the Bluejackets, and the proposal he has currently may come as a surprise to some.
Many people see wrestling as a male dominant sport, which it is. However, there are many girls who also wrestle. Mr. Jennissen is currently trying to make the sport more fair for those girls who would like to join as well. The sport would be more fair if girls could wrestle girls, so he helped craft a proposal to the Minnesota State High School league (MSHSL) to sponsor a girls individual state tournament. If the proposal is adopted, the MSHSL would be hosting a state tournament in the year 2021. Currently girls wrestling is more of a club sport, with some individuals on the boys high school team.

“Girls have been wrestling for a long time, the problem is there aren’t many of them, so we are trying to find a way to make it more fair for the girls. When girls wrestle girls in their weight class, it tends to make it a much more equal opportunity, an opportunity that makes sense.” Says Jennissen.

Typically, if a girl joins the wrestling team, she has to wrestle a bunch of guys, which poses an unfair advantage due to the fact that girls have less muscle mass. This is attributed to the lack of testosterone, which helps with the building of muscle. This causes a girl to almost always be taking on a stronger opponent.
Jennissen states that there are several girls here at CIHS that are interested in wrestling. Some of the interest can be noticed in our wrestling and self defense unit that many students partake in during their time in Physical Education class.
State wide, there is an increase in female wrestlers each year, last year, there was about ninety nine girls in the state of Minnesota alone that were certified through the MSHSL to wrestle at the high school level. According to Jennissen though, there are several hundred that wrestle when you count the youth level as well.
People don’t have a specifically girls only wrestling team, so the number of ninety nine girls probably represents about sixty schools or so because of how small of a number of girls at each school are interested in joining. Some schools only have one or two girls that wrestle total.
Jennissen’s goal is to get girls their own “sport,” but for now, they are trying to start small and get them their own tournament. This would help them determine how well they can take on another girl, because for now, girls have to follow the boys schedule, and if the other team has no boys on their team, the girls will have to take on a boy. This poses an unfair ultimatum for the boys, because sometimes, the family values will prevent this from happening. Sometimes, a boy’s family will tell him “Oh you can’t wrestle a girl, that’s not right.” which causes a forfeit. This is incredibly unfair to both the boy and the girl. It also is unfair, because even if the two wrestle and the boy wins, people will judge him for not letting her win, but on the other hand, if he loses, he will be teased for losing to a girl.

The number of girls who were certified on a boy’s high school team in Minnesota in the last few years:
2016-2017: 51
2017-2018: 73
2018-2019: 98 (As of December 12, 2018)

There are fourteen states that have added Girl’s High School Wrestling Divisions as a varsity sport. Texas and California have the most female participation, having thousands of girls participate each season.
The states that currently do have girls wrestling (and number most recent number of girls participating that is known) are:
Hawaii (562)
Texas (4,140)
California (4,505)
Washington (1,514)
Alaska (271)
Tennessee (294)
Georgia
Oregon
Missouri (approved in 2018) (800+)
Arizona (emerging sport)
District of Columbia
New York (NYC and section 10)
Massachusetts
New Jersey (Approved 2018)

States working on it are:
Wisconsin
Colorado
Pennsylvania
Utah
Michigan
Minnesota
Nevada
Florida
Illinois

Nationally, in 2018 there were about 16,562 girls who were wrestling.
Girls wrestling is a growing sport, so if you are interested, or if you know someone who would potentially be interested in joining wrestling as a girl, stop in to see Mr. Jennissen, and he would be more than happy to give you any information you’re looking for.