CURTIS, Neb. (KNOP) - On Feb. 1, the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association hosted the first ever high school girls wrestling state tournament in Nebraska.
Jessica Gage (L) and Lunna Hottovy (R) competed at the NSWCA girls wrestling state tournament Feb. 1. Both wrestlers medaled, finishing sixth in their respective weight classes. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
Medicine Valley sent two wrestlers to the competition, senior Jessica Gage, and freshman Lunna Hottovy. Both wrestlers finished sixth in their respective weight classes, earning a medal.
Hottovy has wanted to wrestle for a long time, and was finally given the chance to when she got to high school.
"When I was younger, my brother Braeden would always start wrestling me, and it's always been something I wanted to do," Hottovy said.
As for Gage, she was the stats keeper for the Raiders from seventh grade up until her junior year, but when Hottovy joined the team, that encouraged her to join as well.
"I finally was like, there's another girl wrestling this year, so I decided to wrestle with her," Gage said.
For both Gage and Hottovy, wrestling against boys has been a challenge this season.
"It's been super tough because, you know, it's against guys. We're built different, so going up against that, it's more difficult than going it up against girls," Gage said.
Gage said her male opponents have been generally accepting and encouraging about her participation in the sport.
"On other teams, I've met some guys that are like, it's amazing you've been out for the sport, because it's tough for us, and there are others that treat you like a guy, and wrestle you like a guy," Gage said.
Both girls won their first match of the season at the NSWCA meet.
"At the girls meet, it was different. You're able to pick yourself up, and try and get yourself out of positions that you couldn't do if it was against a guy," Gage said.
"That was my first win. It was fun getting an actual win," Hottovy said.
The NSAA will be voting in April on a plan proposing to add girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport. Gage and Hottovy are both in favor of a separate sport, and believe it could encourage more girls to wrestle.
"I think it will make girls comfortable getting out of their comfort zone and experiencing new things," Hottovy said.
"I think it would be better for the girls, just because they know what they'd going to be up against, and it's not getting out-muscled by guys. I think that it would be better for girls and a lot more would go out if it was against girls instead of guys," Gage said.