Battle Girls Wrestling makes history and defies norms
COLUMBIA - Battle High School's Girls Wrestling team will make history by competing in the first high school girls state wrestling championship.
"It's so important for girls to have as many opportunities in sports as boys have because I've seen the outcome of girls getting involved in physicality and getting involved in sports and athleticism. It only benefits them in every aspect of their lives," said Kelsey Mescher, assistant girls' wrestling coach and Battle teacher.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association made girls wrestling an official high school sport in May 2018. This is the first year girls have been able to compete on their own wrestling team.
Battle senior Taylor Reed said joining the wrestling team has been a "life-changing" experience. Reed is one of the eight girls on the wrestling team. She and freshman Anyha Cain will compete in the first MSHSAA State Wrestling Championships.
"I never thought that four months ago I would be at where I am today and with such an amazing group of girls and coaches," Reed said.
Cain said that since joining wrestling, she gets a lot of recognition from her peers.
"It's like 'Oh you're a wrestler. I see you out here doing big things,'" Cain said.
Reed, Cain and their fellow teammates have been defying gender norms by becoming girl wrestlers. Some people have questioned the girls' decision to join the team.
"It's not just a boys sport. Why are you doing this? Shouldn't you be doing something else?" Cain said.
However, Cain had a simple response.
"I can do wrestling too."
Reed said people also questioned her mom for letting Reed stay on the team.
"People asking my mom, 'why would you let your daughter wrestle with guys?'" Reed said.
Reed argues that girls have what it takes.
"It's really not much different. Yes, sometimes guys are stronger, but there's a lot of girls that beat guys' butts." Reed said.
Reed played other sports before wrestling. However, she said she has gotten more attention from colleges since joining the team.
"I played softball for so long, and I never had college coaches come want to talk to me. Now all of the sudden, for wrestling I have four to five college coaches that are emailing me and giving me their cards...and actually involved in what I'm doing," Reed said.
Mescher looked forward to being part of this opportunity.
"I was excited to be on the forefront of an awesome sport for women," said Mescher.
Reed said that wrestling had become a big part of her life now.
"When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I pack is my wrestling clothes," Reed said.
Reed wishes that she had more time to compete in the high school division but hopes to continue wrestling in college.
Reed said though there are only eight girls on the team, she had heard of more who want to join.
"There's all these girls that I don't even know who come up to me and want to talk to be about wrestling and are just so happy about how far I've gone," said Reed.
However, Reed said some girls are discouraged to join.
"There are some girls that want to do it, but they're scared to or people tell them they can't," Reed said.
Reed, Cain and Mescher wanted girls to know that they don't have to be limited.
"It's not just wrestling. You can truly be anything you want to be," Reed said.
The new wrestlers will compete in the MSHSAA State Wrestling Championships at 8:30 A.M. Saturday in the Mizzou Arena.