Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Eureka College's Student Magazine Since 1889

The Eureka College Pegasus

Girls Make Eureka History in the 2023 Wrestling Season


The sport of wrestling is very new to Eureka College. With its fast-growing popularity, many girls are jumping on the opportunity to be a part of history. Though the numbers of partaking in scholastic sports is decreasing, girl’s wrestling has been steadily rising. Considering the benefits that wrestling can provide, it is no surprise that Eureka College has made the decision to provide an official program for students to join.

Student involvement in sports is declining. The first national participation survey showed high school athletics portrayed a 4% decline nationally.  Naturally, collegiate sports are following suit. However, women’s wrestling is gaining a lot of attention from female athletes.

Gada Bryant, a multi-sport athlete at Eureka, became interested in the sport because of inspiration from her older brother. She has been wrestling for about 6 years since her sophomore year of high school. It has become something that she has grown to love. Alongside her “If men can do it, I can do it too” mentality, she is most excited for being one of the first girls in Eureka College history to take to the mat and compete.

For years, it was a common belief among many that it is “too manly” of a sport for females to join, but involvement in girl’s wrestling has skyrocketed. In 1990, there were only 112 girls in the nation who participated in high school wrestling. In the earlier years of the sport, it took a lot of courage and strength to join a male-dominated team.

Not only would having a physical disadvantage be an extremely difficult aspect to overcome, but as society’s view as a whole about women competing against men in combat sports like this.

“We should not require young girls to test themselves against males in this sport in order to be a competitive wrestler or to be valued as a good wrestler. It is a tough and demanding sport as it is, and young girls deserve the right to compete with other tough female wrestlers. The longer we force girls to compete against boys, the more we prevent the growth of women’s wrestling,” Katherine Shai, a board member of the non-profit Wrestle Like A Girl and Five-Time Women’s National Team Member said.

Leaders in wrestling have made it a mission to create as many opportunities as possible for girls to compete against girls at the scholastic and collegiate level. As of Spring 2023, it is one of the fastest-growing sports with more than 50,000 high school participants. For 27 years straight, girl’s high school wrestling has had a growth rate of 10% or higher per year. In 2019, the Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Coalition announced the creation of the Cliff Keen National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships for NCAA Teams.

While the rise of participation in the sport is impressive, so are the benefits of being involved in wrestling. The sport not only teaches mental toughness, instills confidence, discipline, self-reliance, and physical fitness in young women, but it also teaches self-defense and provides opportunities for higher education. The NCAA found that 23% of college wrestlers are first generation college students, the second-highest sport in the country, just behind football at 25%.

Eric Biehl, head coach for the Eureka College Wrestling Program, has been involved in the sport for over 20 years. Biehl believes that the increase of girls participating in wrestling is due to schools buying in and having programs for females.

“Girls did not want to wrestle boys. It’s a lot nicer now that they are wrestling each other, the competition is better, so I think it’s encouraging more girls to give it a try, enjoy it, and get their own awards at state,” Eric Biehl said. “Girls are generally a lot more responsible; I feel like a lot of times you can almost get more out of girls just because they’ll listen more, they’ll be more attentive and pay more attention to detail. A lot of times men will come in and just want to go at it or shake some aggression off.”

Biehl also states that wrestling benefits athlete’s lives outside of the sport. He describes it as another avenue to release some frustrations or stress going on in the world and teaches a “ton of discipline.” He encourages girls to join who are nervous or debating about joining the sport.

“It’s still very new, you don’t have to start when you’re super young to be successful at it. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of girls have found just how much fun it is, to get in there and learn all these new moves and get that discipline that comes with it too,” Eric Biehl said.

Eureka College has only had a wrestling program for less than two years. Since it is still very new to the school, the team is open to more participants joining. If you’re looking for a new way to exercise, learn self-defense mechanisms, or other opportunities to join an extracurricular activity, join the Red Devil’s wrestling team today!

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About the Contributor
Emily Virgil
Emily Virgil, Staff Contributor
Emily Virgil (Morton, Illinois) is a transfer student from Illinois Central College, majoring in Communication and Media Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies at Eureka Collee. In her spare time, she likes to create art. Whether that be through graphic design, canvas painting, or working with clay, Emily feels best being in a headspace for pure creation.