Maryville High School wrestling, traditionally speaking, was a sport that was run by boys.
As of 2018, that changed.
A proposal, one that was attempting to make girls wrestling its own sport, was passed by the board members of the Missouri State High School Athletic Association . The passing of the proposal allowed girls wrestling to become its own entity, whereas the girls previously had to wrestle against the boys.
Jason West, a member of MSHSAA’s executive staff for the last 12 years, said that allowing girls to have their own sport had been a topic on the table.
“It actually was a topic that was discussed for a few years with our wrestling adviser committee and the thought was it just hadn’t gained enough popularity,” West said. “There were certainly some high-level female wrestlers at the high school level, but the committee didn't think there were enough female wrestlers to have a competitive balance to have its own section and championships.”
The passing of the proposal, West said, was due to the rise in participation, which was convincing enough to give the girls their own sport. After the proposal was passed, he added, there was a rapid increase in participation rates across the state.
The MSHSAA wrestling committee passed the proposal with 202 members that stood in affirmation and 41 that voted in negation.
With the proposal being passed, West said, the figure that has already risen past expectations and is projected to grow even higher.
Maryville’s team includes five wrestlers in the recently-founded sport. The team is made up of freshmen Avery White, Julia Van Gundy and Katie Weiss, sophomore Cameron Mackey and senior Amber Ebrecht.
The girls are a part of the movement to break down the inequality barrier when it comes to athletic representation. They’re hoping that this is another step in the direction for girls wanting to wrestle and participate in other athletics.
Katie Weiss said she was happy with how the boys on the wrestling team were accepting of the girls joining wrestling, considering it’s traditionally a male-dominated sport.
The male wrestlers, White said, convinced them to come and try out to be on the team.
When starting out, Weiss and White said, wrestling with the boys was kind of uncomfortable, but because of the friendships and relationships they built with their teammates, it quickly became less weird for them.
“Well it's kind of awkward sometimes when you have to wrestle boys, like at practice and stuff, but we got used to it really fast,” Weiss said
The girls, the duo added, are now friends with a lot of the boys on the team, which creates a comfortable environment.
Weiss (13-0) and White (7-4) are looking to continue to dominate in the division of girls wrestling, proving that girls can be just as good or even better than the boys.
First-year coach Dallas Barrett, Weiss said, has created a place where the girls feel accepted and prepared to compete when the time comes.
“Coach Barrett has done a really good job,” Weiss said. “He doesn't treat us any different from the other wrestlers; he stays on us about our weight and our health.