Eau Claire North sends five to Wisconsin’s first ever WIAA Girls Wrestling State Tournament

Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 6:51 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For the first time, ever, girl wrestlers in Wisconsin will have their own state tournament to compete in and it begins in La Crosse, Saturday.

This decision has already jump-started more growth in the male dominated sport, especially for one high school in Eau Claire.

Wrestling at Eau Claire North is rich in history; 58 teams have come and gone out of the program.

Out of all those wrestlers, though, only one girl has ever wrestled for the Huskies, and her competition was mostly boys.

“I graduated from North in 2016 and I wrestled for north my junior and senior year as the only girl on the team,” said Kaleigh Herrick.

Now, 5 years later, Herrick has returned to the mat to coach an entire team of girls she never had.

“Now this year we have six girls competing on the team in just the first year of offering girls wrestling,” said head wrestling coach Jake Rebhan.

He says the recent spike in interest stems from sanctioning the sport, giving the girls something to really compete for at the end of the season.

“It’s about time its 2022 a great opportunity to be inclusive and provide more opportunities … The big thing we needed was the WIAA to sanction it and now that they have the sky’s the limit ...  it’s awesome to see the growth the sport has had in the last few years,” said Rebhan.

And it’s attracting even younger athletes. The high school now hosts a girl’s camp where more than 20 young girls are learning the sport, taught partially by this new husky team.

“Getting to teach such little people such a great sport I didn’t expect that many girls to be down there and doing their very best and having fun and enjoying the sport it’s amazing”

Senior wrestler Katlyn Grant and sophomore Sydni Schindler got involved in wrestling for different reasons, but both agree they’ve gone under an unexpected transformation.

“My confidence has grown so much after wrestling guys I’ve been able to pin multiple guys down there and at the beginning of the season they could pin me in two seconds but now I’m putting up a fight so,” said Grant.

“A lot of people have asked when were at duals if were managers and to be able to say were wrestlers it shocks you how it’s not normal for people and I’ve had a lot of people tell me were insane for doing it,” Schindler said.

While some say they’re insane... These girls are excited to be changing the game.

“Not only are we making history in this high school and in Eau Claire but we will be making history in Wisconsin and it’s a huge deal to have my girls be a part of the first WIAA state tournament,” said Herrick.

“I just want to surprise people it’s awesome to be able to put this in the history book and we all need to be more proud of ourselves and give each other more credit because were really pushing ourselves every day,” Schindler said.

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