Girls’ wrestling makes their mark on the mat


Molly St. Clair

EYE TO EYE: Junior Kayleigh Loo helps coach sophomore Natalia Cruz during practice.

Molly St. Clair, Editor-in-Chief

Wrestling is often perceived as a male-dominated sport. But this year, the DGN girls’ wrestling program is aiming to change this narrative. CTE teacher Marcos Rico has taken the role of girls’ wrestling coach and wants to offer opportunities that have not been available to the girls of DGN ever before. 

“Like any extracurricular, we want to create an opportunity for all students. I hope that more people try and give it a go. You never know what might stick,” Rico said. 

Junior Kayleigh Loo has been wrestling since 7th grade. She was introduced to the sport when a wrestling clinic came to Herrick Middle School’s gym classes. 

“I started off thinking it would be a funny thing to do and I actually liked how it worked. I found it fun to wrestle other people and I just kept going,” Loo said. 

When Loo joined the wrestling team at DGN her freshman year as the only girl on the team she only practiced with boys. Loo went on to compete at the state level and has been on the team ever since. 

Loo went on to recruit current sophomore Megan O’Toole when she was a freshman, the two of them will be some of the only returning members this year. The team has now gained an additional four members. Their skills vary, with some of them only getting into the sport a few days before the season began. Sophomore Alexa Luna had not wrestled before joining the program, and found the sport to be a great way to relieve stress. 

“I needed something to distract myself and wrestling ended up being really good to help cope,” Luna said. 

Although the current team is small, they hope to gain more members as the season continues. 

“I would love to walk into a meet with 20-25 girls. That’s the goal and we never want to sell ourselves short,” Rico said. 

Rico has had a long history with wrestling, participating in the sport in both his junior and senior years of high school. He has been an assistant and head coach for “Beat The Streets Chicago”, a wrestling program that strives to offer affordable opportunities for kids who want to get involved with the sport. 

“I’d like to say I have taken a big role in ensuring that girls have an opportunity in wrestling. We’ve always had the boys’ program, it’s only right and just that we provide the same opportunities for the girls here at DGN,” Rico said. 

Although girls’ wrestling programs have existed at high schools across the area for years, IHSA only sanctioned the sport for girls in 2022 . Prior to this, girls competed with the boys’ teams and would wrestle girls only if there happened to be a girl on another school’s team.

“If you’re comfortable you can wrestle a guy but because there are more girls’ teams popping up now we wrestle more girls,”  O’Toole said. Other than York High School, every school in DGN’s conference now has a girls’ team. 

It’s really cool to see more girls in what’s considered a male dominated sport,

— Kayleigh Loo

Boys’ wrestling coach Christopher McGrath has shown support for girls’ wrestling and the changes it brings to the overall program. 

Adding girls’ wrestling can only help grow the sport at DGN, in the state, and across the country. Anyone who is willing to work hard and dedicated themselves to the sport has my respect,” McGrath said. 

As the team goes into their first competitions of the season, the team wants more girls to come out and try out the sport. 

“It’s really cool to see more girls in what’s considered a male-dominated sport. You shouldn’t be self conscious about joining, we’re all going through the same stuff,” Loo said.