These girls got grit
Three local teams have two female wrestlers
By Greg Seubert
Wrestling fans attending the Akey Duals Dec. 10 at Weyauwega-Fremont High School might have noticed something in the program.
Five teams – including Weyauwega-Fremont and Waupaca – brought at least one girl to the six-team tournament.
Senior Jaden Gruetzmacher and sophomore Jaelyn Reeck are wrestling for W-F; Waupaca’s roster includes senior Natasha Schultz and junior Allysa Spierings; and Manawa’s varsity team includes juniors Joline Denton and Alice Vitali.
Schultz is recovering from a recent injury and didn’t wrestle at the Akey Duals, but hopes to get time on the mat soon as a 152-pounder.
“It’s a competitive sport and I’ve grown up to be competitive,” she said. “I was in cheerleading and basketball, but it just didn’t really suit me.”
Although Schultz didn’t get to wrestle at the meet, Gruetzmacher beat another girl – Ripon’s Lili Alderson – 16-14 in a junior varsity match.
“It’s really awesome when you get a win,” she said. “You just have to push through the pain. If you’re determined to do something, you can do it. It’s one-on-one, there’s no team to back you up.”
Gruetzmacher is in her third year on the team and is back after taking last season off.
“My coach asked me if I would so we could have a shot at beating some people,” she said. “I’m a team player.”
She’s also one of three managers on the team, along with Reeck and Katie Loehrke.
“We videotape everything, we make sure everything’s set up for the guys and we keep score,” Gruetzmacher said.
Although Gruetzmacher is a veteran wrestler with two seasons under her belt, that’s not the case for Schultz and Spierings, who are out for the sport for the first time.
“It’s fun,” Schultz said. “I’m a complete newbie at this. It is hard to do. You have to be able to be at the top of your game, you have to eat healthy, you can’t just sit around and eat a whole bunch of snicker doodles and think you can go out and wrestle.”
Schultz is the latest in girls that have wrestled in Waupaca. Amanda Worthey wrestled last season and Christina Rasmussen wrestled two seasons ago while also suiting up for the Waupaca Area girls’ hockey team.
“I have wrestled with the guys and I do know how it feels to wrestle,” Schultz said. “My team has cheered me on and pushed me.”
She didn’t hesitate when asked why wrestling is a good sport for girls to at least try.
“I honestly think there’s no sport that a girl can do better than a guy and a guy can do better than a girl,” she said. “I was going to go out last year, but I didn’t have the health to do it. I was kind of sick a lot last year, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it.”
Schultz watched from the sidelines as paramedics tended to Waupaca wrestler Logan Bernhardt after he was injured in the Comets’ match with Chilton/Hilbert and said she doesn’t worry about getting hurt in a match.
“If you’re a basketball player or a cheerleader, you can get hurt no matter what,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what sport you’re in, you are going to get hurt.”
Manawa coach Brad Johnson said Denton and Vitali are assets to his team. Denton wrestled last season as a sophomore, while Vitali is a foreign exchange student from Italy.
“Joline is a hard worker who comes to practice to learn and get better every day despite being lighter than everyone else on our team by 45 pounds” Johnson said. “Alice works very hard and is a quick learner. She said the hardest thing is translating in her head what we are saying when she is out there in a quick manner to react and score.”
Gruetzmacher has wrestled with other girls on her teams before.
“It makes it a lot easier to go through everything and not have to worry about awkwardness,” she said.
She was on the W-F track team as a freshman, but hasn’t tried other sports at school.
“I water-ski a lot and that takes up most of my time,” she said.
She may be a long shot to compete at the WIAA State Individual Wrestling Meet, but that’s OK with Gruetzmacher, who’s listed as one of the Indians’ two 113-pounders.
“Height doesn’t really matter,” she said. “It’s all about how you use your abilities. It’s just an incredible workout and there’s nothing better than feeling like, ‘Hey, I did that, that was all me.’”