Wrestling's popularity grows among high school girls

January 15, 2010 8:27:46 PM PST
Over the past decade, high school wrestling has changed dramatically in California with more and more girls wanting to compete. The sport is quickly growing in popularity with what is usually considered the "gentler sex."

Napa's Vintage High School held their 12th annual girls only wrestling tournament last weekend with 263 participants. There were only 36 competitors the first year.

"I think girls like it because it a sport that demands a lot of training and skill and also your only accountable to yourself," says Vintage High wrestling coach Ron Lanterman.

Napa High senior Samantha Gardner has always loved "guy" sports.

"I like to do the kind of things girls don't usually do. So I was interested, I went and tried out, and fell in love with it ever since," says Gardner.

Wrestling has really boosted her self esteem.

"I proved to myself I can do stuff that I never thought I could do before," says Gardner.

Gardner was the first girl to join the Napa High team and her mother was shocked.

"I struggled with her wrestling boys, but after you get used to what's going on, it's fun to watch," says Samantha's mother, Suzie Gambill.

"I've actually made a guy quit on Vintage's team and Napa's team. It's pretty cool," says Gardner.

The girls have bonded and do a lot to help each other get better.

"They get competitive about it because they know what they did wrong and they want to do better the next time," says Pittsburg High wrestler Desirae Coniglio.

Injuries are a part of wrestling, but these girls love to compete, and their coach says they add a lot to one of the fastest growing high school sports.

"It's made a big difference for them. It's a way to challenge yourself. It's a whole different world," says Lanterman.


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