GIRLS WRESTLING: Atlantic-CAM Girls Reflect on State Wrestling | Sports

The delegation of female wrestlers from Atlantic-CAM and two other area schools, AHSTW and Riverside, are in Coralville and at the fourth annual meeting of the Iowa State Girls Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association.

And what a weekend this is shaping up for the eight local girls who made the trip to the eastern half of the state to show they’re the best in the state.

For Atlantic-CAM, Ellen Gerlock, Rio Johnson and Quincy Sorensen took to the mats of the Xtreme Arena, among more than 700 girls competing in 15 weight classes. That’s up from 461 entries and 11 weight classes a year ago.

AHSTW sent Bella Canada, who is competing in their third competition. Riverside had four girls competing: Jayden Carrigan, Carly Henderson, Kiara Meek and Allyson Keener.

About a week ago, in preparation for last weekend’s State Girls Wrestling Meetup, the Atlantic trio sat down with the News-Telegraph to share their thoughts on the Girls State Wrestling and what it takes to succeed in this sport.

Sometimes girls come out to break stereotypes and perceptions that wrestling is still just a guy’s sport.

“I’ve always been interested in wrestling, but I’ve never done it before,” admits Johnson. “I was too scared and I feel like girls’ wrestling has been stereotyped, so I ended up doing it this year because I had fans telling me to get out.

“I feel like some people are saying girls don’t try and it’s a guy’s sport and not a girl’s sport,” she said, hoping to shatter the perception.

It’s a family connection for Gerlock, as Clint Gerlock is an assistant coach for the Trojans.

Sorensen said a girl on the volleyball team, who was previously involved in women’s wrestling, encouraged her to come out. It was also the encouragement of the coaches.

“I was really bad last year and the coaches said you’ll be better this year,” she said.

It’s the rush to improve that has Johnson and her teammates wanting to come back for more.

“I came (to the season) knowing nothing, so winning my first game (by pinfall) was probably exciting,” she said, noting that she learned to work on her feet and work for move.

Sorensen recalls her first win of the year coming at Humboldt, where the Joe Fitch Invitational had a women’s division. She remembers her match was against someone equal to her skills.

“It’s definitely growing as a sport,” she said. “There are a lot more (girls) coming out of college, and a lot of them are pushing themselves to try hard and overall they’re pretty good. It will make the sport grow.”

It is this hope that supporters of high school women’s wrestling will one day inspire the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union to officially sanction the sport. Iowa is one of the few states that has not done so. IGHSAU officials said there were not enough participating schools for it to be sanctioned, so for now the annual meet remains an open meet.

As such, at least two weight classes have so many entrants that the IWCOA added a “silver slice” to those weights, 120 and 125, to allow less experienced wrestlers to compete.

Sorensen said before the competition that she hoped her competitive experience at the state meet a year ago would have taken the edge off her and that she would do better this year.

“It was nerve-wracking, and I was scared to go out there and… not really hurt myself but cry,” she said. “But it was a good time. I didn’t cry so it was good.”

Johnson said his friends provided him with plenty of encouragement.

“They tell me you did well and it takes courage to go out there and fight because it’s really hard,” she said. “Wrestling is a tough sport and you have to be committed, but the excitement of winning a match is great.”