Wrestle like a girl

Female freshman rekindles girl’s wrestling team

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Wrestle like a girl

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The competitive wrestling season has begun and with the season comes wins. Varsity placed 6th at the Dansville Tournament. With junior Cody Freiermuth taking home a silver in the 140-weight class and junior Bradley Cooper grabbing a silver in the 285-weight class.

What the sports enthusiasts may not have been prepared for was the success of the second only female to join the team, freshman at the 145-weight class, Kalysta Connolly who medaled in the first-ever female state tournament.

“As far as I know, in the 2000s, we had our first female wrestler,” said Meghan Kunzelman athletic director.

A former MMA fighter Calie Cutler (Honey Badger) and alumna of the class of 2008 was first. She was coached by STEM teacher Robert Richards.

Cutler wrestled locally and for 6 years with the local boys program; she continued into college on the University of Jamestown womens team.

“My first three years of wrestling, I only had four wins. Come my junior and senior year of high school, I had a winning record,” Cutler said.

Her move to college brought stark differences from her training on boys teams.

“College wrestling was by far harder than wrestling with the boys,” Cutler said. Of her 3 years on the collegiate team, she said, “It presented many challenges and opportunities to push myself past what I thought was possible.” Cutler’s junior year, she was in the top eight female college wrestlers in the nation.

After college, Cutler advanced to MMA, or mixed martial arts, a full-contact combat sport that allows striking and grappling, both standing and on the ground, using techniques from various combat sports and martial arts.

Cutler remembers conflict that came along when she started wrestling, She said a lot of the boys didn’t agree with her decision to take to the mat, but they didn’t say much about. The only person she remembers giving her a rough time was one of the male wrestler’s moms.

Newcomer Connolly finds inspiration in the struggle and ultimate success of Cutler.

“The last girl that wrestled went as far as MMA after her high school years. So, with that being said, what does that bring to the table for me?”

Like Cutler, she has found the boys on the team seem to support her decision.

Junior Elija Green, first year varsity wrestler, thinks it is “pretty cool” that Connolly wrestles.

“But for some of the boys on the team, they don’t like wrestling her because she’s a girl,” Green said. “Not because they don’t like her, but because they grew up getting taught to never lay hands on a girl.”

Assistant coach Brian Connolly, who previously wrestled in high school for Michigan Center, thinks Connolly has an amazing drive, and she is a good athlete. “You see her day after day in practice, running, day after day in practice, doing her drills, practicing her moves,” Connolly said. “She has locked horns with some of the biggest, baddest, toughest kids in the district—boys in the district—and has worked very hard.”

Junior wrestler Mike Keeler thinks of Connolly as any other player. “She signed a waiver just like the boys,” he said. “I don’t think she signed up to not be wrestled so why avoid wrestling her.”

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