The Future of Female Wrestling


Female wrestler Annika Thompson sits in the Lakeland High School mat room

Shelby Larcher, News Writer

The future of female wrestling is growing very fast.

Annika Thompson, at Lakeland High School, is a prime example of that. 

Annika Thompson is a sophomore at Lakeland. She is one of the two female wrestlers on the team representing our school. 

Thompson has loved wrestling her whole life, since a young age.

 She used to wrestle with her dad and he would teach her things because as she says “he was an amazing wrestler when he was younger, and all I ever wanted to do was take after him.” 

In 5th grade, she officially took up wrestling as a sport, and she says she “didn’t win a single match until middle school.” She has now been doing it for 6 years. 

Thompson is the first girl on the wall of legends in our school’s wrestling room. 

She talks about how “that is something that will be there forever, and that is amazing in my eyes. That is history and I made that.” 

The first two years of wrestling were tough for Thompson. 

The exact moment she recalls that provoked her love for the sport was “The first time I got my hand raised in the middle of the mat. This is what I strive for, this is why I push so hard, this is why I never give up” she says that that is why she fell in love with the sport.

 Practice isn’t her favorite thing but she says “getting your hand raised? It’s the best feeling I could ever find.” 

Her wrestling coach, Zach Horsley states that “Annika contributes to the team just like everyone else. She works hard, leads by example, and has a great attitude.” 

Due to Thompson being one of the only girls wrestling, overcoming what people have to say can be difficult. She tries her best to not care what other people think. 

Thompson has a certain saying when people tell her that she is different, says “You step on the mat you are not a guy, you are not a girl, you are a wrestler.” 

Her dad has drilled that into her head since the moment she stepped on the mat. Thompson makes it known to both her teammates and coaches that that is how she expects to be treated. 

Female wrestling all together has come a long way in the past years. In fact, the IHSAA Executive Director, Ty Jones says, “This will be our first year of sponsoring a girl’s state bracket at our state tournament.  We are offering ten different weight classes.” 

The weight classes range from 106 – 285. 

 Horsley says “The future for girls wrestling is bright and I see it continuing to grow. It is one of the fastest-growing sports in the US.” 

The coaches are excited about not only Thompson but girls wrestling in general. 

“It is a great sport for personal growth. I think that it is great that more and more girls are getting to experience it,” Horsely says.