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Girls wrestling grows roots

Del Oro team looks to match boys program as new sport gains popularity statewide
By: Robbie Enos Gold Country News Service
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LOOMIS — Mike Maben filled out his order for league championship T-shirts that belonged to the girls wrestling team at Del Oro High School. The odd part is that the order was sent in before the start of the season, not after. In actuality, having a team in the first place was all Maben needed. Maben started the girls wrestling program at Del Oro in October. It’s the first all-girls wrestling team in school history and the only one in the Sierra Foothill League. “High school sports are a crucial part for the development of young people,” Maben said. “It seemed unfair that we would have the greatest sport in the world, which is wrestling, and only allow boys to do it. Girls have been allowed to do it, but they’ve never been encouraged. The culture is changing.” The beginning of the project showed promise, as 26 girls went out for the team. But as time passed, the difficulty of the sport became too much for the majority. Twelve remain on the roster. “Some found out how hard it really was,” Maben said. “Some didn’t like getting hit in the face, and some said, ‘Oooh, that uniform’s not for me.’ We’ve twiddled it down to 12 girls that are working hard and are dedicated.” The 12 that remain are excited for the development of the program and the opportunity to show fans wrestling also is a sport for women. “Wrestling is not something that girls usually look at,” Brie Simmons said. “But when you find a girl that says, ‘Hey, I’m ready to wrestle,’ it shows that you are tough and ready to take on something.” Said teammate Rosey Worden, “I’ve always kind of had an interest in it. I’ve always played a lot of sports. Mr. Maben came to me with the idea of wrestling, and I just kind of went with it.” Finding teams to wrestle against is a struggle, but Folsom and Christian Brothers have all-girls teams, joining dozens more throughout the state. The season will culminate with another historic event — the CIF’s Girls State Invitational in Lenore on Feb. 25-26. Today, Del Oro will be host to its first dual meet and hopes to gain more attention for the program. Maben estimated the Eagles are around .500 so far in matches. “We are encouraging more and more girls to come out,” Maben said. “To see other teams have girls and not have Del Oro be number one, I couldn’t live with that.”