Girls wrestling: finding their strength


Isabel Guimaraes

Wrestlers Madyson Harris and Jamie Sirianni practicing for the new season.

Since opening in 2006, Wiregrass Ranch has seen major progression in its wrestling organization and in recent years, an increase in female participation. Head coach, Jamey Ketler, began a push to recruit female wrestlers to the team in 2018 and successfully had three wrestle at states last year.

This summer, the FHSAA approved unanimously for girls wrestling to become a state sanctioned championship sport starting in the 2021-2022 season. While this decision does not impact the current seniors on the team, it is a leap forward for Florida female wrestlers hoping to earn a state title in the future.

Strength is not defined by gender.

— Jamie Sirianni

Six girls joined the wrestling team this year, five of which are underclassmen. Freshman wrestler, Ysabella Quevedo, was excited to hear about the girls team becoming sanctioned for next year, but joined the team to try something new for herself.

“I really wanted something empowering that could teach me how to defend myself,” Quevedo explained. “I’ve never participated in a sport before and I think I found the right fit for me.”

Although Wiregrass has endorsed a girls wrestling team, not all schools in the area have, resulting in some girls wrestling their male equivalents in similar weight classes. Wrestling boys in the absence of female opponents has allowed for the girls at Wiregrass to dominate when wrestling their own gender.

Jamie Sirianni is a senior on the Wiregrass Ranch girls wrestling team. (Isabel Guimaraes)

“They work just as hard and are just as tough as any of the boys,” Ketler explained of his female wrestlers.

Senior Jamie Sirianni joined the team this year to continue in her father’s footsteps, who also wrestled in high school.

“Knowing that he did it and he’s strong and I’m strong, I knew I could do it too,” Sirianni said. “Strength is not defined by gender.”

Ketler is hopeful to find scholarships for his female athletes this year as many colleges are building their women’s wrestling programs, and Sirianni is hopeful for that as well.

“My goal is to work on myself to become a stronger person in general and if I’m good enough, possibly continue on in college,” Sirianni explained.

Junior and former state qualifier, Madyson Harris, credits the formation and success of the girls team to the “continued growth of female participants” and commitment seen by returning athletes.

Junior Madyson Harris was one of the few girls that made it to states during her sophomore year. (Isabel Guimaraes)

“I originally joined the team to try something new,” Harris explained. “Wrestling has changed my views of what I can accomplish.”

Harris hopes to make it to states again this year by training harder and pushing herself.

“Wrestling with guys teaches you something different than wrestling with girls,” Harris said. “It’s not about strength, it’s about technique.”

Coach Ketler believes he has a strong female team this year as they are not only competing with the boys, but starting to beat them as well.

“I think there is a tremendous opportunity right now to have our girls team be one of the top teams in the state,” Ketler explained. “Girls participate in a lot of different sports all across the bay area, but it would be something very different if our girls get recognized for being number one in wrestling.”

Contrary to traditional beliefs that wrestling is a boys-only sport, the girls at Wiregrass are breaking down barriers and hope to leave their mark on the sport.