EAGLE, Idaho — After a historic win in 2022, Eagle High School’s girls wrestling team is gearing up for another shot at becoming state champions.
"It's kind of awesome to be a part of something that is being built. it's being built for other generations," said Reece Woods, a senior at Eagle High.
Wrestling is one of the oldest and most popular sports among boys and men, but it’s one of the newest sports to be picked up by women and girls.
“I think you expect the boys to be tough. When these girls come in and they are that tough, their faces are red and sometimes teary. I'm like you guys are inspiring," head coach Michael Stone said.
Girls' wrestling is growing in Idaho, and so is the Eagle Mustangs team.
"I think it can be scary a lot of the times being put in an environment like a guy's wrestling room and being comfortable in that space is very challenging. To see girls in Idaho is amazing," senior Olivia Woods said.
Stone said winning the state title came as a surprise to him, but he says he’s proud of his team.
"We ended having nine girls come out. It was the first year they sanctioned girls wrestling, and the (Eagle) girls won everything. The only thing we didn't win was Reno, but we took third -- it's a national tournament. So, the girls won district and won state,” Stone said.
Seniors Olivia and Reece Woods, who are twins, said it’s more than just a title.
"We are family. I think that for wrestling it is an individual sport… it's important to stick together and cheer each other on and know that we have each other's back. I think that's the key part of our success in team championship,” Reece said.
Olivia said Idaho started with 200 girl wrestlers; this year that number has grown to 600.
"I'm very grateful for what we've been able to experience and what opportunities that we've gotten, but it's super exciting to see the sport grow for women,” Reece said.
Reece and Olivia say when their time in high school comes to an end, they hope future generations continue to represent on the mat.
"I think a lot of norms for parents is to tell little girls is just do sports that are common, but I think to reach out and try something new is really important,” Reece said.
"I want people to know that it is an option. You can do it if you want to," Olivia said. "Do something new. Don't follow everybody.”
Aside from leaving a legacy behind, Olivia and Reece will leave Eagle High School's wrestling room with its first state championship banner.
"It's really special," Stone said. "Never in a million years would I think the first banner to hang in the gym would be for girls wrestling."
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