Wakefield’s women wrestlers enter the game strong


Staff Photo by Maxx Rubino

Ava Lytle from the Wakefield Women’s Varsity Wrestling Teams wraps her arms around her opponent preparing for round two of her match against Fike High School. Lytle won the match and won first place overall for her weight class at the Jan. 7 wrestling tournament.

Danielle Kirschner and Camryn Ledwith

Wakefield High School wrestlers are strong, invincible, powerful, and competitive athletes who will never quit until they prove that they are all about ‘the W.’ Historically, Wakefield’s wrestling team has been heavily populated by males, but female wrestlers are on the rise and are dominating their competition with the introduction of the new female wrestling team at school. These girls are empowering others one day at a time, and are an image of bravery, determination, and perseverance at Wakefield. Recently, Dayna Bland placed third and Rohama Gebremichael placed second at the Women’s East Regional Tournament; this qualified both wrestlers for states.

The team is relatively new; this was the first official year of the women’s wrestling team, and in turn, the girls were unsure of what to expect. However, the team bonded together quickly and soon became comfortable both on and off the mat. Joya Winston, a senior on the women’s wrestling team, has felt welcomed since day one.

“We have great coaches that want the best for you and all of the guys on the team are really supportive and help you if you’re struggling with anything,” Winston said.

With many of the girls being new to wrestling, they are still continuing to learn the basics. Alexander Curtis, one of the wrestling coaches at Wakefield, understands from first-hand experience that having a strong mental game as well as being physically healthy is key to success.

“I had been a long-time wrestler myself in high school and college. The family I came from has a long history with the sport,” Curtis said. “Wrestling is a demanding sport both physically and mentally. Students can quickly burn out if the atmosphere is not fun and supportive.”

All the coaches on the women’s wrestling team have truly admired the dedication and effort the girls have been contributing. Despite some wrestling athletes being new to the sport, Head Coach Russel Williams sees an abundance of potential in the future for the girls.

“Although the girls just started, they are fierce and really bring it. I have never worked with a group who was so new and simultaneously worked so well,” Williams said. “For next year, I expect us to be conference champions. I really believe we are going to [be] conference champions and make state playoffs.”

Although the girls just started, they are fierce and really bring it. I have never worked with a group who was so new and simultaneously worked so well.

— Williams

While the men still outnumber the women in terms of Wakefield wrestling, both teams are treated equally. Athletic Director Brent Dorenkamp values the inclusivity of the team.

“I think it’s important because everybody needs to know that an athlete is an athlete regardless of their gender,” Dorenkamp said. “Everybody should have a chance to perform and be celebrated equally.”

The more accomplished the women feel the more confidence they gain. Multi-sport athlete and junior Dayna Bland is a new member of the team but always accepts a challenge. If anything, she is the challenge.

“I know that [the boys] are usually going to be physically stronger,” Bland said.

However, Bland doesn’t let this adversely affect her.

“I’ve had multiple matches against guys and when I pinned one of them, the energy in the gym was insane,” Bland said.

As women’s wrestling continues to grow, North Carolina is now sanctioning women’s wrestling so that men and women will not be able to wrestle with each other next year. Although this is upsetting, the women’s team will now have its own division and will continue to inspire future generations of wrestlers.

“Regardless of what others think, women are gaining more confidence to try new things,” Winston said.