Wrestling, considered by many as the “toughest” sport, is often stereotyped as a male sport, but a recent rise in the accomplishments of female athletes competing in matches proves otherwise.

This past season, females from numerous states claimed state titles all around the country. One of these girls is Henry M. Gunn High School (Gunn) junior Cadence Lee, who holds the California state title for the 103 pound league. Lee is the third athlete in Gunn history to win a state championship.

This past season Paly had one female wrestler, sophomore Alexa Austin, while Gunn had four girls including Lee.

“[Girls’ wrestling is] definitely growing extremely quickly,” Lee said. “I’ve seen the level of competition improve dramatically from just my freshman year.”

While girl’s wrestling is growing in size, it is still not big enough to have its own league or even its own team at schools its own team.

“For now, it’s all still co-ed,” Lee said. “Personally, I think it’s great. I prefer wrestling with boys because I find it more challenging, and it’s a great way to keep my condition at the top level. I think, eventually, girls will have to wrestle just girls.”

Girls like Lee are defying the stereotype that girls cannot wrestle at the same level as guys.

“I feel like there is the stereotype that the boys are probably a lot stronger than the girls, which isn’t always true,” Lee said. “I think people respect female wrestlers for being able to go out there against the boys, even if they’re seen as the underdog.”

Obviously, Lee is not the underdog on the mat; she plans to compete next year in the hopes of holding her state title.

“I’m really happy about [winning states],” Lee said. “But I have to stay focused and aim even higher for the future.”

Although the number of female wrestlers has grown exponentially over the past years, many people are still not aware that high school girls can wrestle competitively on boys’ teams.

“I didn’t even know [female wrestlers] existed until recently,” junior Paul Bienaime said. “I know that [girls in wrestling] are more prominent than people think they are, and I know that they compete with boys, which I think is pretty cool.”

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