Girls wrestling looks to tackle disparity in participants

During+the+2021+VAWA+Freestyle+States+event+on+May+8-9+at+Riverbend+High+School+in+Fredericksburg%2C+sophomore+varsity+wrestler+Erin+Meymarian+takes+down+opponent+Samantha+Jurgens+of+Grizzly+Wrestling+club.+Meymarian+placed+2nd.

Courtesy of Maryellen Meymarian

During the 2021 VAWA Freestyle States event on May 8-9 at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg, sophomore varsity wrestler Erin Meymarian takes down opponent Samantha Jurgens of Grizzly Wrestling club. Meymarian placed 2nd.

By Terra Nagai, Chantilly High School

Wrestling, for most of its history, has been seen as a male-dominated sport. The same applies to high school wrestling. According to a 2016 survey taken by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), 94% of high school wrestlers were male. 

However, low numbers didn’t stop sophomore varsity wrestler Erin Meymerian from achieving success last season. Meymerian placed 2nd at states, 3rd at northeast regionals and qualified for nationals. Meymerian hopes she can help encourage more girls to the sport.

“[Meets] are done by weight class, and many girls are uncomfortable with this, which is a reason many girls don’t join,” Meymerian said. “Outreach [and] informing girls that they have the option to [reap] some of the benefits physically, mentally and emotionally [can help].”

With only a few girls participating, they must sometimes wrestle against boys during meets.

“I don’t mind there not being many girls because wrestling boys usually makes me better,” Meymerian said. “But when there are other girls, quick friendships are usually made.”

The differences in numbers between boys and girls on the wrestling team have no effect on the intensity or rigor of training, as everyone trains together. However, there are still some differences between the two away from practice due to the difference in numbers. 

“I wouldn’t say that there are many advantages or disadvantages because I don’t view myself as any worse or different than the boys,” Meymerian said. “The only thing I would say is that the boys’ bathroom/locker room is usually open but many times the girls’ [locker room] is locked.”

Despite the scarce participants, senior and former wrestler Lucy Pham believes there are still many positives that come out of having only a few girls on the team. Pham wrestled for two years, but will not be competing this year.

“It’s easier to have a close relationship with the girl wrestlers because we have more opportunities to get to know them,” Pham said. “I might not get to know all the wrestlers on the team, but at least I’ll know that I’ll be familiar with the girls.” 

Over the past few years, more girls are participating. According to NFHS, there was a 27% increase in girls participating in wrestling in high school from 2017 to 2018.

New faces have appeared in the JV team as well, as freshman Maryam Adio joins the small but growing group of girls participating in wrestling. 

“I’ve never wrestled before so this is very new to me,” Adio said. “This year I’m really looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and getting in shape. It’s been a long-term goal of mine to do something new and lose some weight in the process and I’m already noticing some improvement.”

The varsity wrestling team’s record is currently 5-0 and their next event is the Panther Holiday Classic from Dec. 17 to Dec. 18 at Mt. Aloysius College.

This story was originally published on The Purple Tide | The Knightly News on December 27, 2021.