A great sport with unlimited opportunities
February 11, 2023
Meet my heroes.
Ever read those stories where some stick-up artist, burglar, or purse snatcher messes with the wrong dame?
The bad guy gets flattened by an 80-year-old grandma.
It's always a good feeling hearing that kind of news, which beats reading about all the deadbeat political chumps.
Deep down, I've always imagined that these women had grown up with older brothers who taught them how to wrestle.
About three or four years ago, I wrote in this space that the local junior and senior high school girls should consider joining the Roseau boys wrestling team.
The numbers were way down.
Plus, there were some very good female athletes, whom I figured could fill some of the empty weight classes.
It isn't often that a wrestling legend and former Olympic gold and silver medalist texts me.
Ben Peterson took me to task because he divinely believes that girls should never wrestle the boys.
To me, it's never been a sexual thing about boys wrestling girls even if it isn't exactly beach volleyball.
Still, there was no use arguing with a fine Christian man who could tie me into knots.
I did wrestle with Teri Kimble about 40 years ago at the Wannaska Elementary School when none of the grade school boys would practice with her.
For a very good reason.
She was tougher than they were. Later that spring, Teri wrestled in a Grand Forks freestyle tournament. She didn't win it, but she won two matches to make the podium and I remember one of the boys crying after the match.
Teri had a nice headlock.
Girls who wanted to wrestle in high school back then had to make the boys team.
It's been a long time coming to Minnesota, but girls wrestling has taken off and they will have their second straight individual state tournament in less than a month at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
My sister, Katie Bredesen, has lately been following girls wrestling and even sends me photos of some Star Tribune articles.
She should have been up here years ago to see my favorite match ever.
On Monday, it all came back to me. I couldn't remember her first name, so I called Tyler Hovda.
Tyler will never forget her.
Tyler Hovda and Angie Macioce competed for one of the many kindergarten championships.
It was nonstop. It was the best little kids wrestling match ever.
"I remember the match," said Tyler 41 years later.
It was a helluva match!
She was tough!
Hovda laughed when I mentioned it.
"She was as tough as a head-on collision. She once beat the hell out of me on the playground, too. I tried to fight her, and she picked me up and slammed me on my back. I was so embarrassed."
She might have been sweet on him.
"She was a tough girl, man. I didn't fight with her after that, and I fought everybody."
She was a pretty little Italian.
Somebody else recently brought her name up.
Tyler was asked about the final score, but he only remembers that he beat her in a close high-scoring match.
It was a classic, just a barn-burner. Both went wide open for three solid one-minute periods on the center mat in the old RHS gymnasium.
They were less than 3 feet tall and tried to annihilate each other. When it ended, they might have received a standing ovation.
There had been many headlock throws and slams.
"She probably liked me," he said and laughed.
He later earned fifth place honors at the Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament his senior year in March 1994.
The best Minnesota female wrestler who only competed against the boys in high school was featherweight Emily Shilson, soon to graduate from Augsburg College where she has had a stellar collegiate wrestling career.
Maybe Emily made a lot of boys cry in high school. She's already in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
According to her Hall of Fame bio, Emily had a high school career record of 139 wins and 64 losses with 62 pins against the boys while wrestling for Centennial High School and Mounds View High School.
She qualified for the Minnesota AAA boys state wrestling tournament three times, becoming the first girl to ever qualify for the state tournament.
I was there watching. She never won a match, but it was the best training she could ever have.
She has since won world titles, and I doubt she ever cried after losing to a boy. The competition only made her tougher.
Someday soon, Greenbush will have its first female state wrestling champion. Sarah Pulk is presently ranked number 1 at 152 pounds.
She is very good and would do very bad things if somebody tried to mug her or steal her purse.
Someday, Roseau will have a female state placewinner and eventually a female state champion.
It will be a very proud occasion. But it takes hard work, talent, drive, and luck.
Sorry, Ben Peterson, but times have changed. Little girls and even big girls will continue to wrestle the boys if that's the only competition available.
Last Saturday in Detroit Lakes, little Joy Ullman, all of six years of age and a kindergartner, wrestled four boys.
She held her own, according to her mother, Joanna, explaining that Joy tied for 3rd place.
"Joy won one match and lost three," she said on Monday evening, adding that one of her matches went into overtime before she lost.
"She never got pinned and worked hard in every match. She is really enjoying wrestling. Actually, the kid she tied for 3rd place is the kid she went into OT with."
Joanna explained that there weren't enough competitors to have separate girls and boys 45 pound weight brackets.
"I asked Joy after she lost a tough match, 'Would you rather score goals or wrestle?' Without hesitation or any tears, she said, 'Wrestle!'"
She can skate, too!
Last weekend, Breah Przekwas made the top of the podium. It wasn't the Olympics, but she won a title after wrestling for about six weeks.
She'd been pinned in some of her earlier matches, but she's improving.
I've known Breah since she was a little tyke, mostly freckles and sometimes a frown.
She's a freshman and there's still plenty of time in this sport to become very good.
I don't know what she weighs. I just know that she's a competitor whether it's catching walleyes or shooting the biggest buck.
This column is mostly about wrestling. For girls weighing less than 100 pounds and upwards to 250 pounds, there's room for them.
It's a great opportunity. There are 13 weight classes and it's a fun sport but not an easy one.
Beginning in the 2023-24 season, the approved weight divisions for Girls Wrestling are: 100 pounds, 106, 112, 118, 124, 130, 136, 142, 148, 155, 170, 190, and 235.
It's a great opportunity for the bigger girls to compete and make their mark.
It must be about five years ago that my boss, Jodi, and I tied up for a takedown in the office.
I was lighter, probably a couple of weight classes, and Jodi was looking to take me down.
Nothing beats a timely headlock. I'm glad they didn't have girls wrestling back when Jodi was in high school.
She might have kicked my butt.
You want to know what's the greatest sport?
Try wrestling, It's a confidence builder. When I was emailed the photo of Breah at the top of the podium and right next to her in second place was Mylee Vacura, also a Roseau ninth grader, their smiles said it all.
You don't win every time, but it sure is fun to win.
Roseau has an elementary girls wrestling team that is coached by two gals - head coach Lindsey Krank and assistant coach Lisa Mack. Twenty plus elementary girls are out for wrestling.
Last Sunday, Jim Mack, the Roseau boys head wrestling coach mentioned that Breah has been staying after high school practices to help with the youth girls practices.
"She's been an awesome role model."
And she's a wrestler!