The Tale of a Heavyweight Girl Wrestler- Katie’s Story

Interviewed and written by Rebecca Li

The first time Katie Cantrell wrestled, she fell in love with the sport. She loved the aggressiveness and the mental toughness that wrestling demands. Having wrestled since seventh grade, Katie went to the state tournament in Oregon last season. She wrestled in the 235lbs weight class.

Going back to the beginning of her wrestling journey, Katie mentioned that it was thanks to her mother that she started wrestling. After bringing home a flyer of a wrestling program in middle school, Katie’s mom encouraged her to try it out. Looking back, Katie appreciates her mom’s approval for the sport, because she would have found a different one if her mom had not allowed her to wrestle. 

As her school does not have a girls wrestling team, Katie joined their boys wrestling team— as the only girl wrestler. Despite being the odd one out, Katie possessed an aggressive attitude on the wrestling mat. She still vividly remembers her first match against a guy, scrambling and grabbing on to her opponent’s singlet as she attempted to “wrestle.” 

But it has not always been easy, especially as a heavyweight girl wrestler in a school with few female wrestlers. She found that many boys were hesitant to wrestle her or accept her as a member of her team in the beginning.

“Because they weren’t used to wrestling a girl. I think the idea just made them nervous. So I was rejected for the first couple of years”

-Katie Cantrell

Additionally, Katie often got gasps from her friends and classmates because she was a wrestler. She even had a parent of another student come up to her one day, saying that she should be doing cheerleading instead of wrestling. 

“I’ve had several parents question that I’m a girl wrestler. I remembered this parent came up to me one time, and they were like ‘you should be doing cheerleading, not wrestling’”

-Katie Cantrell

Despite these difficulties, Katie carried on with her wrestling career and kept her sharp and aggressive mindset. She recounted that she accidently broke a guy’s arm in freshman year. This led some people to become increasingly aware and sometimes afraid of wrestling her. 

When Oregon was sanctioned for girls wrestling about two years ago, Katie wrestled her spot first in regionals. The next year, she qualified for regionals, sectionals, and eventually for states. Although she had whooping cough and pneumonia right before the state tournament, she ended up recovering just in time for states and placing fourth. 

When she is faced with these important matches, Katie reminds herself to not be nervous or think they are extremely special or important. Imagining that these matches are nothing more than a scored practice helps her keep her composure if she’s feeling anxious about them.

“I have the mindset of: it’s going to be okay. It’s just like practice. Its a timed and scored practice” 

-Katie Cantrell

Katie often runs, jumps, and listens to music to warm herself up and get herself ready before her matches. Prior to going on the mat, Katie talks with her coach, who encourages and assures her that it will be fine no matter what happens. 

Now, she encourages all girl wrestlers experiencing similar situations to not be afraid of wrestling, even when they are put against boys. Even though some guys may have more strength and stamina, it is the mindset that goes a long way. 

“Don’t be afraid of them,” Katie said. Show people what you are made of.    

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