Wrestling with Gender Stereotypes


Freshman MJ Konieczny wrestling senior Joab Hackmann during practice. Due to Konieczny and Cox being in two different weight classes, the girls often have to wrestle other boys on the team. Photo by Alvi Lending.

Trey Williams, Op/Ed Editor

School sport tradition states that each sport has two teams: one for boys and one for girls. For wrestling, this is not the case. At least not anymore, after two girls were recruited for the team this season. Freshmen MJ Konieczny and sophomore Mariella Cox are the new female recruits.

“It can be kind of different sometimes, especially because for most of my life I’ve hung out with mostly girls,” Koniecnzy said. “It’s definitely a new experience.”

Parkway Central is far from the first wrestling team to become co-ed. The mixing of the sexes on the wrestling team has been a function of the sport forever, with schools like Parkway West and Clayton having girls on the team far before this year.

Wrestling has a unique system that is ideal for having a co-ed team. Due to biological differences that may give an advantage to either side, wrestling has brackets designated for males or females. The only time a girl would wrestle another boy from the team would be if there are no girls on the other team. At a tournament, a co-ed match would only be an exhibition match, or a match that would not have any effect on a team’s success.

That’s not to say wrestling never happens between boys and girls on the team.

“Since there are only two girls, I’ve actually been wrestling boys most of the time,” Koniecnzy said. “It just sort of depends on who’s open at the time and weight classes.”

To some, this could sound strange. Wouldn’t it be uncomfortable for boys and girls to wrestle each other?

“I’ve been doing judo for like 12 years and I’ve always worked with girls,” junior Yousef Ahmad said. “It’s not weird to me. There are some boys that get kinda weirded out, but you get used to it.”

Unfortunately, not all boys are as comfortable as Ahmad. “If they focus on the fact that I’m a girl and they’re a guy [it can be awkward],” Cox said. “If they don’t and just focus on trying to wrestle to get better it’s really not that awkward.”

Some may think that trying out for the wrestling team as a girl would be like signing up for daily beatings. This is far from the case. Everybody knows that males have certain biological advantages that give them an edge, but females have their own ways of getting an edge on their opponents.

“Generally, [girls] use their brain a lot more,” Ahmad said. “They are naturally a lot more flexible. Sometimes they’re faster.”

Despite the ability for every girl to succeed in wrestling against boys and girls, the transition of the team to co-ed will surely come with naysayers. Can a girl really survive on a traditionally male-dominated sport?

“I’m probably going to get beat up a few times but, especially when I start to figure out what I’m doing, I’m probably going to beat a few people up too,” Koniecnzy said. “That’s the game.”

Despite the wrestling team finally recruiting females, this is the final year where co-ed wrestling teams could exist. MSHSAA is currently transitioning wrestling teams from co-ed to sex separated. In the 2018-2019 school year, MSHSAA specified that girls could wrestle boys in the regular season, but not during districts. After the transition period ends next year, boys and girls will not be able to wrestle at all.