Sparkman Trio Of Female Wrestlers Take To Mats For High School Wrestling
HARVEST- Female wrestling is alive and getting more prevalent in high schools throughout Alabama and three student-athletes at Sparkman High are making their push in the sport usually dominated by males.
Reagan Grant, Akerah Artis and Kameron Glenn have each donned their wrestling gear and hit the mats against both boys and girls during the current 2020-2021 high school wrestling season. Both Grant, a freshman, and Glenn, a junior, are in their first season of wrestling while Artis has been on the mats since her seventh grade year with most of her matches against boys.
“I’ve gotten used to it as I don’t look at them as boys- I look at them as opponents,” said Artis, a sophomore. “They don’t take it easy on me as they hate the fact they may lose to a girl. As for wrestling girls, it actually seems easier since I’ve wrestled boys most of the time.”
Ronnie Watson is in his sixth year as head coach of the Senators’ program and he said the three girls are the hardest working athletes he’s seen in his program. “When we held our summer workout program they went all out and during matches when the whistle blows they all go at it and are very aggressive,” Watson added.
Artis was once a cheerleader and for the last three seasons has been a manager for the football program at Sparkman. She was asked by a coach to try wrestling and at first was not interested, but with the encouragement from her mother to give the unusual sport for a girl a try. She won her first match at the end of her first season and soon began to like the sport.
“I began getting better and the sport helped me lose weight,” said Artis, who currently wrestles in the 145-pound weight class and is undefeated at this point in the season. “Wrestling kept me out of trouble. I’m sort of passive in nature and wrestling has helped build me up to be more forceful. I feel I can take care of myself.”
Glenn, who takes to the mats in the 132-pound weight class, was an all-star softball player competing at Monrovia’s Phillips Park and came to the sport of wrestling through her siblings. Two of her brothers, Brody and William, both currently wrestle for the Senators and Glenn would attend their matches and witness first-hand the competiveness of the sport and how her brothers would somehow get out of situations of despair during a match.
“Anytime they got into a pickle I thought I could get them out of the situation, though I didn’t have a clue about wrestling techniques,” said Glenn. “Our father bought us a small mat we put in our living room and we sometimes practice together. My dad is the biggest supporter of me wrestling.”
To make the efforts at the wrestling team seem even more like a family outing, Kameron Glenn and William are part of triplets while their sister, Madelyn, is a team manager of both the school’s wrestling and football teams. Brody has a twin sister, Paxton. The siblings have a younger sister, Rachel, which gives the Glenn family six children to parents William and Lisa Glenn.
“At first I thought it would be weird to wrestle with boys, but it is okay,” said Glenn.
Participating in the 145-pound weight class, Grant, a former all-star softball player gave up her longtime sport for wrestling when the opportunity to change sports occurred when her brother, Zachary, a senior wrestler on the team, took to the mats. Her parents were not overly excited about the idea of their daughter tackling the rough and tough sport of wrestling, especially against boys, but they soon gave in to their daughter’s wishes.
“I don’t worry about the boys touching me in an improper way as most are good guys,” said Grant, who currently sports a 7-3 record and also plays the French horn in the school marching band. “I definitely under estimated how difficult this sport would be as I was in good physical shape because of my playing softball, but soon found out wrestling is totally different.”
Grant and her brother share some wrestling moves in an attempt to make Grant better against tough competition. They use the living room floor and show their parents. She added, “I was never one of those frilly-type girls. I played in dirt, so wrestling is sort of natural sport for me.”
“The guys have taken to the girls and they are just like any other team member,” said Watson. “The girls jump in and are willing to do anything they need to do to be better wrestlers. They are very coachable and it’s a joy to have them on our squad as they are the growth of the sport.”
The sport has grown considerably this school year. So much so, the Alabama High School Athletic Association has decided to host its first ever Girls State Wrestling Tournament Jan. 23 in Birmingham. Any female wrestler from the across the state can participate with champions determined in each weight class.
“I wished I began to wrestle sooner as I’m going to enjoy this sport,” added Glenn.
“If a boy can do this, I can do it, too,” said Artis.