For any sport, everything you train for, sweat for, and spend hours practicing for is to be able to make it into the state competition. The Lebanon High School girl’s wrestling team put in all the work they could in order to secure their spots to make it into the IHSAA Wrestling State Championship. This season, all of the girls made it, and they trained harder than ever before to make sure that they would place in their most important matches of the season.
Uneasy nerves are a very common feeling before a competition, and the wrestling team shared how they felt preparing for the defining moments of the season. Sophomore Emerson Wolfbrandt shares methods that she uses so that her nerves do not spike too high.
“I don’t ever look at my brackets or who I’m wrestling in advance, so I just prepare myself the best I can,” said Wolfbrandt.
For sophomore Sarah Huse, it was only her first year in wrestling, so she experienced a new type of rattled nerves while preparing for competition.
“I’ve done other things like performing arts before, but it didn’t feel like that type of nervous. It felt like a weight on my back, like a type of pressure, but they told me to try to think about it like another tournament and not to psych myself out,” said Huse.
This is senior Alexis Bernal’s fourth time competing in a high school wrestling state competition, so for many of her teammates, her experience was a relieving part of the team dynamic. However, even with all the experience, the nerves were still there.
“Every time before my finals I get nervous, but my coaches always come up and talk to me and it helps a lot,” said Bernal.
The main thing the girl’s wrestling team had to combat during their season was a series of injuries they felt might inhibit their performance at State. Bernal commented on her ankle injury, which she said did not affect her performance during any of her matches. Sophomore Gracie Brandt was out for most of the season due to stress fractures in her back, but despite these challenges, the girls maintained a positive attitude and did not let the injuries stunt their growth as a team. In fact, they did just the opposite.
“The injuries set us back, but it’s also pushed us forward a lot because the other girls are working harder since they have to make up for the kids that are out,” Brandt said.
Huse mentioned that she had suffered a black eye and a concussion after being hit during one of her matches.
“You get hurt all the time, but it never feels like a big deal because your body just learns how to handle the pain,” said Huse.
For the girls, wrestling is about more than just winning the matches. Reaching goals they set for themselves, overcoming challenges, and creating tight-knit bonds with their teammates are the things that make wrestling worth the constant hard work and endless effort.
Bernal shared that she had pinned her way through all of regionals and state this season.
“I was expecting to win because most of the girls there don’t have much experience, but the one in my final was actually pretty good, so I wasn’t expecting that,” said Bernal.
Sophomore Shelby Cope commented on the impressive performances by her teammates. She has been wrestling for five years and noticed great improvement in her teammates who haven’t been wrestling as long.
“Team wise we did really well, considering we had Emerson who has only been wrestling for about a year, and this is Sarah’s first year,” said Cope.
Although the girls felt they did well, many of them, including Wolfbrandt, stated that they always have room to better themselves.
“Overall I think State went really well for Girls’ Wrestling. Personally, I believe I could have done better but I feel like it was a big step forward for the girls’ program,” Wolfbrandt said.
In the past couple years, the Lebanon Girl’s Wrestling team has underwent a major transformation. Huse is glad that women finally have a place in the sport.
“It was really cool to feel so empowered to be a woman and to be able to stand on that podium and know that you are doing something different to change a program that used to be so male-led,” said Huse.
The team finished their season with a celebratory lunch after their competition. They agreed that the 2019 state championship was a success, and they all said they have made memories with their teammates that they will remember for the rest of their lives.