Girls Wrestling Reaches its Biggest Numbers Yet

Girls wrestling has grown over the four years of being a sport


Sydney Davis

Caroline Ward faces off against an opponent in a match earlier this season. She recently won Most Outstanding Wrestler of the DeSoto Tournament.

Chloe Stenger, Reporter

Senior Lillia Clay has been on the girls wrestling team for the past four years. This year marks the most female wrestlers Liberty has ever had. 

The team has nine girls: Clay, Caroline Ward, Sophia Drake, Sophia Spakowski, Elektra Lowe, Kat Zink, Madelyn Kuhn, Jersey Goodall and Arely Perez-Gomez. 

“I think this is the highest because it’s gained more popularity over the years. Girls wrestling and wrestling in general wasn’t very popular in the last four years, but our team has steadily been growing,” Clay said. 

Clay believes that girls wrestling has grown a lot and she also believes it will keep growing, stating, “I’d say girls wrestling in my and the coaches’ opinion has really saved wrestling as a sport all together,” and “I sure hope it keeps growing, and I think it will.”

The team also has had some solid performances on the mat in both team and individual competition. 

Lillia Clay and Arely Perez-Gomez share an emotional moment after Perez wins a match. (Micki Morris)

“Our team at the moment is doing pretty well. We just recently beat Holt High School which we’ve never done before, so that was a big morale boost for our team,” Clay said. 

When asked about the team’s biggest highlights, she said, “Where to begin? There are so many highlights. The duel at Holt was really good.”

One of Clay’s personal highlights was when she placed third at the most recent GAC meet. 

“Normally it would just be another medal, but I just got out of a stump from last year’s injury. It was kind of a slap to the face, realizing how much an injury can destroy my body and ability, so just being able to place third at GAC, being able to know I’m going to districts, it really brought my old self back,” Clay said.

Clay believes that Ward is one of the best wrestlers as well as Spakowski.

“Caroline Ward is definitely doing well, but she always does good and always had a thing for wrestling. Another person who is also really improving but she won’t admit it is Sophia Spakowski; this is her first year doing it and she’s learning very quickly.”

When girls wrestle in a match, they are legally not allowed to wrestle the opposite sex, but at practices they are able to wrestle whomever. 

Wrestling as a sport is rather unique because it’s an individual sport, however, you have a team that motivates you.

“It can be pretty hard on you mentally especially after a loss,” Clay said. “I just recently had a loss from Fort Zumwalt; it’s pretty hard sometimes, but overall it’s a great sport, very unique.”

She confirmed that girls wrestling at Liberty started in 2019 with Janna Stevenson.

Kat Zink focuses on her move to try to take down an opponent. (Sydney Davis)

Clay became friends with Stevenson her freshman year and really looked up to her as a mentor and a fellow wrestler.

“Believe it or not, I was wrestling with her for practice when she was 180 and I was 110; she really guided me and pushed me to keep going, and she was a big inspiration for more than just female wrestling but for wrestling in general. Because A, she was our first female state qualifier, and B, she just knew what she was doing.”

The only girls to have made it to state are Stevenson and Ward. 

“I do believe a lot of our girls have the potential to make it to state.” Clay said.

This weekend, the girls have a tournament in DeSoto, and in two weeks, the districts are coming up. Clay says, “Depending on how well we do at districts, we could go to state.”

“To make it to state and districts, I believe you have to place in at least the top four,” remarked Clay.

They have enough females to qualify as an individual team team “because it’s not really about the amount. I’ve actually seen some pretty small teams make it to district and state, however the chances of those teams winning tournaments is slim to none,” Clay said.

Lillia Clay would like to mention, “I just want to say for those female wrestlers that will hopefully see this, keep doing what you’re doing and work to be the best version of yourself,” and a recruitment message: “Female freshmen, if you are looking to do female wrestling, don’t hesitate to; please join, we want to keep ladies Eagles wrestling going, and we want to keep our team growing. Please consider joining.”