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Hastings College Women’s Wrestling doing its part in rewriting the norm

The Lady Bronco wrestling team is knocking down barriers in its first season as a sponsored sport
Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 10:52 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - In the fall of 2019, Hastings College announced the addition of women’s wrestling to the school starting the 2020-2021 season. The decision made Hastings College the 63rd college or university nationwide to sponsor and recognize the sport.

Now the Lady Broncos are in their inaugural season. Something these athletes may have never thought was even possible just a year ago.

“Most of them didn’t even think this was an opportunity for them, until I contacted them and said, ‘Hey let’s come wrestle in college, let’s do it,’” Hastings College Women’s Wrestling Coach Cara Romeike said.

Women’s wrestling has become one of the most rapidly growing sports across the country, and it is still just scratching the surface. While the sport has grown in popularity, the wrestlers had to fight to get to where they’re at.

“To be honest, it wasn’t that great. Everyone was shocked,” Freshman Kimberly Pollak said. “They were like, ‘Woah, you’re a girl wrestler? What’s that mean?’”

These women are trailblazers in every sense of the word.

“I was the first girl at my high school, which was crazy, so I was a part of a boys team,” Pollak said.

“My first ever high school match actually came against Kim,” Freshman Amy Fuller said. “They gave this like huge announcement before we wrestled and were like, ‘This is the first Arizona sanctioned girls match.’ Now we’re teammates.”

While other girls never even had the opportunity to hit the mats.

“I really wanted to wrestle since middle school, but I was told I couldn’t just because I was female,” Junior Jacqueline Carreras said. “I never had the opportunity until now, thanks to my coach.”

Romeike began her wrestling career in high school, and competed at the collegiate level as well. She wrestled at the University of Jamestown, which like Hastings College is in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. At Jamestown she was a three-time captain, two-time conference champion and NAIA National Runner-Up in 2019 at 130 lbs.

When this job came along Romeike said it was everything she dreamed of. Now she gets the opportunity to build this program from the ground up, and continue to grow the sport.

“I’m so grateful to be able to coach and grow a new program, because I get to make this program exactly how I want it,” Romeike said. “Ultimately I just feel like I’m part of history, growing the sport of wrestling and getting to be a part of something so much greater than me.”

These women are proud of what they’re doing and the steps they have taken to help grow the sport, and want all of the little girls out there to know that they can do it too.

“I just want to show girls back home that they can come and they can wrestle,” Pollak said.

“It feels empowering to be in a position where I can be represented as a strong athlete in the same way, and get the same attention, as men,” Fuller said.

“You can do anything that you set your mind to. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it. Just look them in the eyes and say yes I can,” Romeike said. “You can do it, and there’s some people that won’t believe in you, but you have to believe in yourself.”

They’re hoping that everyone hops in line and starts recognizing women’s wrestling for what it is - a sport just like any other.

“It should be a normal thing for women to be allowed to wrestle, for girls to be allowed to wrestle on their high school teams,” Romeike said. “That should be a normal thing and that’s what we’re trying to grow towards.”

in its first season, the program has nine wrestlers on the roster. The team currently has only three active because of the battles with injury and COVID-19. However now with a full year to recruit, Romeike says that she expects to field a full roster next year that will be able to compete in each weight class.

The Lady Broncos take the mat again Sunday in Indiana at the Warrior Open.

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