Women wrestlers just as good as men

by Zach James

Let the silence commence. All it took was a win.

Megan Black once wore black and red for Ottumwa, and to some pundits, having her compete at the Iowa State Wrestling Tournament was a black eye to the sport.

That doesn’t matter anymore. Black is at the top of her game.

Last Thursday night, Black became the first female to win a match at the state wrestling tournament, one that has been going on since results were recorded in 1921. Black, who now wrestles for Eddyville-Blakesburg, got her victory over Jacob Schmit of Don Bosco in Gilbertville, one of the powerhouses of the wrestling mantra that is Iowa high school wrestling.

Now that Black has made history at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, we can close the books on the gender debate in the sport of wrestling.

Let’s go back to last year when the whole issue brewed its own storm within mere hours.

In 2011, there were two girls who made their debuts at the state tournament. Black, who then was with Ottumwa, and Cedar Falls’ Cassy Herkelman were the two everyone was focused on last year, and not for the good reasons.

Herkelman’s first opponent withdrew from the match because of religious beliefs and, well, just not wanting to wrestle a girl.

That started the national avalanche. Scary enough, I can hear the snow falling from the mountain once again.

It is a shame that the talk will start once again, because, though most don’t realize it, Black has done a lot for the sport of wrestling.

Take Waldorf Women’s Wrestling, for example. In just their second year of establishment, the NAIA school in Forest City has turned some heads and many have wondered if women are indeed suitable to hit the mat.

As an end result, Waldorf finished ninth out of 15 programs at the Women’s College Wrestling Association National Tournament. Yet, some still believe women belong in the stands and not on the mat.

Now, the program is in its second year of figuring things out and has led to the question of whether Iowa high school girls should be able to compete on the mat and then advance onto the collegiate level to wrestle. Girls have the same chance and ability to do so as guys do, so what’s the problem?

Is the sport becoming less masculine now that girls are being allowed to compete on the mat? Is it degrading for boys to wrestle against the opposite sex?

I say no.

For those who do say it is becoming less masculine, I say the guys who are against it are acting like girls in this situation. Let the girls compete.

There’s no line girls are crossing by wanting to compete in wrestling.

If there is a serious problem, make a separate league that the Iowa High School Girls Union can run to differentiate between the two genders. However, it shouldn’t have to come down to that.

Let the girls come out and battle the boys. See who is the best, no matter what sex the competitors are.

Black and Herkleman are not the only girls to compete in Iowa high school wrestling. In 2010, 65 girls competed throughout the state. It just so happened that only two girls achieved the greatest honor of making it to the big stage last year.

Remember the old kiddie folk tune which went, “Anything you can do I can do better?” That song seems fitting here, doesn’t it?

Black has proven she can tango with the best of the best. With her win on Thursday, she has silenced all the critics and has possibly created a brand new conversation on whether girls can compete more competitively at the high school and collegiate levels.

Zach James is a junior at Simpson College majoring in multimedia journalism. He is a staff writer and contributing columnist for The Simpsonian and the Sports Director for KSTM radio.