IOWA CITY — Girls’ wrestling is a reality at Iowa City West High School,
In informative meetings held before and after school on Nov. 6, assistant wrestling coach Kody Pudil went into detail about his vision for the program.
The school is finalizing a club coach, but practice began Monday and the season will end on Jan. 24 with an unsanctioned state tournament. The West team will practice three times a week, once before school from 6:30 to 8 a.m. and twice after school from 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m.
The first competition will be on Dec. 16 at City High.
The before school meeting had about a dozen girls present and the after school meeting had roughly 10. Although this will be the first year girls will have their own independent wrestling team, assistant wrestling coach Kody Pudil was impressed by the interest the potential wrestlers showed and speculated the West program could be one of the largest girls’ programs in the state immediately.
Pudil fielded questions from the girls, some of whom had parents or friends who were worried they would be wrestling girls bigger or more experienced than them. He said girls would always be matched with an opponent their same weight, and said most high school wrestlers they will compete against also are new to the sport.
“We are going to be a very green, young team, but ... I know a lot of you guys are athletes, and I think you guys will pick up on the sport very quick,” Pudil told the girls.
For girls involved in other sports, Pudil said wrestling will help them in their main sport or could possibly become their main sport.
Senior Kaitlyn Hansen has been running girls’ cross country since her sophomore year. With her final season behind her, Hansen sees girls’ wrestling as an opportunity to stay in shape while trying something new at West.
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“Through girls’ wrestling I would hope to just stay active,” said Hansen, who was undecided at the meeting if she wanted to wrestle. “It’s hard once your sport ends to continue to push yourself and stay as active as you were during season. So being apart of this sport would really help hold me accountable to staying active and getting in even better shape.”
The head coach will be at every practice and Pudil will try to make it to one practice a week, as will boys’ head coach Nate Moore. Pudil stressed in the meeting the girls will practice as a team and won’t be required to practice with the boys, although they can join the boys for additional workouts if they choose to do so.
“I know that’s been a big hang up for a lot of female wrestlers,” Pudil said. “They want their own unique thing, they don’t want to have to wrestle boys anymore and really by creating a girls vision that shouldn’t have to happen.”
This promise was especially appealing to freshman Amelia Stevens, who wrestled on a boys’ team in seventh grade, but didn’t always feel welcome as a girl in a sport dominated by boys.
“I was really excited because I did wrestling in seventh grade, but it was really awkward,” she said. “I didn’t really feel like part of the team and nobody really talked to me. To be fair I didn’t talk to them either.
“In tournaments, the boys could be kind of immature, like ‘Ugh why do I have to wrestle a girl?’ and all like, ‘You better beat her.’ So I think I’ll probably be a lot more comfortable and just feel more like I’m part of a team.”
Pudil is optimistic about where girls wrestling is headed, and he hopes to see it become a sanctioned sport in the next few years.
This development is another draw that peaked girls’ interests, such as sophomore Rawan Guzouli.
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“Women are (not always) looked at as wrestlers, so when I knew there a wrestling team in our school I was like, ‘I got to join to show everyone else that its OK to do what you feel like doing,’” she said.