Manitou’s Only Female Wrestler Discusses Sport

Kaitlyn Davidson, Reporter

Last year in the U.S., 11,496 high school girls wrestled. According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, thats a staggering increase from past year, at 20%. “Alaska, California, Hawaii, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington all sponsor a state high school championship”  the National Wrestling Coaches Association reports.

Not only has high schools made leaps and bounds in the pursuit of making wrestling a sport available to everyone, but an effort is being made on the national scale as well. The Olympic Committee finally added Women’s Wrestling to the 2004 Olympics.

All these numbers are abstract identities. 11,495 seems like a gigantic number right? However, if it’s put into a state-wide perspective, the number turns to a small 85. In Manitou Springs High School, the the number recedes to one. Rachel Cramer (12), Manitou Springs’ only female wrestler, has defied statistics to pursue a sport she loves. Cramer has been wrestling all of high school.

This season has been very challenging for her. She has grown her skill set exponentially. Despite her advanced techniques, the sport hasn’t rewarded her with the record she was hoping for.

“It’s hard wrestling guys because they have twice as much muscle as me and sometimes that’s more important than skill,” said Cramer.

Because of the intimidation of wrestling boys who are physically more capable to grow larger muscles, girls can be discouraged to do the sport. “It takes so much gut to be able to stand up against boys who are determined to beat you because their pride,” said Cramer. 

Teammate Noah Sobeck (10), said, “I have a lot of respect for her as a wrestler. Her biggest asset is probably her extreme flexibility.”

Because of Cramer’s dedication and ability, the Olympic Training Center has invited her to wrestle with them. Cramer was ecstatic when describing this huge advancement in the sport, not only because of the prestige that comes along with the phrase, “I’m going to go now, I have practice at the Olympic Training center.”

This new team is a rare All Girls Wrestling Team, one of the only in the state. This is the most nerve-racking part for Cramer, since it will be the first time she has ever wrestled a girl.

“I have never wrestled a girl, I’m not sure how different it will be. But I am really excited to have a more even playing field,” she said. 

The team’s practices are grueling. lasting two hours each, six days a week. These take up all Cramer’s time during the winter. Practices include many things like strength, cardio and plyometrics in some very unexpected ways. “I’m a tough girl, but even I cry after some practices because it is so draining,” said Cramer.

Wrestling demands discipline in all areas of life. Losing wieght is one the most difficult things about the sport. A single pound can throw off your entire tournament due to strict weight classes.  

Cramer and the rest of the team carefully document their weight before and after practices, and sometimes her weight can fluctuate up to four pounds in one day.

The awkwardness that male wrestlers feel towards her is a setback in many ways. Cramer joked about how uncomfortable guys can feel when wrestling with her. “They never know what to do with your body, they are like ‘Wow, you have boobs!”

Wrestling is very much a partner sport, especially in practice. At first this was hard for Cramer and the rest of the wrestling team, but Sobeck, her longtime training partner, thoroughly enjoys the time he spend wrestling her. “She is really dedicated and I enjoy getting to train with her.  We not only have a friendly relationship on the mat, but off as well which is really great,” Sobeck said.

Even people who have met her briefly have seen her passion for the sport. The photographer for the Regional Wrestling Tournament, Becca Heiniger, said, “She’s obsessed with wrestling, and is very dedicated to it.”

Cramer would love to see more girls trying out for the team, as she thinks it has molded her into the strong, independent and healthy woman she is now. “I love it, I have a passion for it,” she said.

Wrestling holds a dear place in Cramer’s life, and she will continue to participate in the sport for the foreseeable future. Wrestling has given her so many opportunities and she is grateful she was lucky enough to participate in the sport.