Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Legit Women Wrestlers


I don't talk much about it, but I come from a wrestling family, with four generations of wrestlers (my paternal Grandpa was a state champ). There's wrestlers on both sides of the family. One of my cousins took nationals in freestyle. I don't know how many "wrestles" I attended growing up, but although the number is less than my parents, its a ton, as my younger brothers started wrestling when they were little, little guys. If I had to, I could put you in a single leg take-down, a cradle, a half nelson etc without thinking about it.
I also grew up in Vernal and am a Uintah High alumni, who has 23 state wrestling team champions over the year (team championships, not individual wrestlers-that number is higher). Wrestling is king in my hometown and has been for 50 years. In my town, the wrestlers were the Big men on Campus, they dated the cheerleaders, not the football players. The wrestlers were the wild ones, the ones that got the perks and the reps that football players in most other small towns get.
This all being said, I never had a desire to be a "girl wrestler." I played co-ed basketball and soccer in elementary and middle school, but that was different. Girl wrestlers? I never was interested. A girl wrestler at Uintah? That's breaking down stereotypes and attitudes in my community that goes far beyond a girl football player.
So, I was happy to see this article about Candace Workman, believed to be the first woman wrestler from Utah to qualify for the state tournament. Guess where she's from? Yup, she's a Uintah Ute. Even wrestling at 103, its a tough region--the toughest in the state at any division most years, which makes her accomplishment that much more impressive. Candace, good luck at state!

Candace also makes the quote of the day:

(from the article below)
This year, six boys - all from out-of-state schools - chose to forfeit instead of wrestle her, she said. Some said they did not want to lose to a girl, but most declined for religious reasons.

"I hate that," she said. "There were two brothers from [Green River,] Wyoming that said it was against their morals and their religion. That made me upset. They are [Latter-day Saints] and so am I. It's not anything sexual out there, trust me."


Here's the article:

Wrestling stereotypes:
By Jay Drew


When Uintah High's Candace Workman walks out on the mat Thursday at the Class 3-A state high school wrestling tournament to face Tooele freshman Jake Prather, she won't be thinking about smashing stereotypes, breaking down barriers, making history or getting extra attention.
"I will just be thankful to have someone to wrestle against," the sophomore from Vernal said.
Workman is believed to be the first girl to qualify to wrestle in the Utah high school state tournament. She placed third in the 103-pound division at the Region 11 meet Saturday in Morgan, making her eligible to compete this week.
"I will just be thinking about winning my matches," she said. "Maybe later, I will think about the significance of it."
Workman has a 22-6 record in varsity matches this season, and is 35-6 overall. She pinned a Morgan wrestler Saturday in less than a minute in her first match, then beat him again for third place after she was pinned by Wasatch's Trevor Sweat in the semifinals.
"It feels awesome, although I really should have made it last year before separating a joint in my shoulder," she said. "What it means and all that is probably up to other people to decide. I just hope other girls who think wrestling is a great sport will see it and read about it and think, 'If she can do it, so can I.' "
Breakthroughs aren't new to Workman. She has won four female wrestling national titles in her age group, since she began wrestling nine years ago. Her goal is to make the U.S. Women's Olympic Wrestling Team, after the sport was added to the Games prior to the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
"She loves to mix it up and she doesn't fall into the regular stereotypes," said her father, Jason Workman.
Workman drew some attention as a 14-year-old in 2004 when she was excluded from wrestling against boys at a Spanish Fork junior tournament. However, after legal action was threatened, Spanish Fork recreation officials reversed their decision and let her in the tournament, because the girls division did not draw enough participants to sustain a tournament.
Washington and Hawaii are the only states with separate high school competitions for girls. But Workman doesn't want to see Utah create a special division for her.
At Uintah, coach Gregg Stensgard said the novelty of having a girl in the room wore off a long time ago. He said Workman was the first girl to ever make it through University of Minnesota coach J Ronson's famed 28-day Intensity Camp last summer.
"She works out, she runs and she lifts [weights]. She does everything that anybody else does," he said.
Although Workman is a long shot to become only the second girl in the nation to win a state wrestling title competing against boys - Alaska's Michaela Hutchison did it last year at 103 pounds - she is a serious competitor who could place in the top eight if things go her way, several coaches say.
"She's legitimate," said Wasatch coach Steve Sanderson, father of Olympic Gold Medalist Cael Sanderson. "She's a good athlete, she's dedicated and she's tough."
This year, six boys - all from out-of-state schools - chose to forfeit instead of wrestle her, she said. Some said they did not want to lose to a girl, but most declined for religious reasons.
"I hate that," she said. "There were two brothers from [Green River,] Wyoming that said it was against their morals and their religion. That made me upset. They are [Latter-day Saints] and so am I. It's not anything sexual out there, trust me."
* Candace Workman is believed to be the first girl ever to qualify to compete in the Utah state high school wrestling tournament

* The sophomore at Vernal's Uintah High in eastern Utah is 35-6 this year and placed third at Saturday's Region 11 meet to qualify for state Workman, who competes at 103 pounds, has won four national female wrestling national championships

* On her achievement: ''I just hope other girls who think wrestling is a great sport will see it and read about it and think, 'If she can do it, so can I.' "

6 comments:

Krispy said...

Doesn't she know that Mormon boys and girls are not allowed to wrestle before marriage?

aisy said...

this is awesome. i think it's HIL-arious that boys tried to cite religious reasons. wouldn't wrestling be even more of a no-no in their "religion"?

Steve said...

I never understood the appeal of wrestling. It's kind of like boxing, barbaric and not fun. But to each their own, but 'professional wrestling', that is where I have MY experience. Did some of that in college! :)

Kipluck said...

That is really interesting. Dude, GIRL POWER!!!!!!

Jenn said...

Good for her!

Anonymous said...

I think this is sweet because if you even are close to winning against a boy that wrestles then your one tough girl and i have seen Candace wrestle and she is amazing.
Boo you all you boys the use religion as an excuse. Your all just little pussy's and need to toughen up.
Hope state is good for our team this year Candace.