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'Just one of the guys'
Kendall is first BVHS female on wrestling roster
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

February 27. 2014 10:04AM
Katelyn Kendall arrived at Brandon Valley High School in late December, and she’s already making school history.

The 16-year-old junior is the first female at BVHS to wrestle in the high school ranks.

Despite the fact that it’s a male-dominated sport at this level, Kendall has no fears, as she’s all business on the mat.

“It doesn’t really scare me,” says Kendall, a lightweight wrestler at108 pounds, and competes at 106 or 113. “It’s a sport just like any other sport. It is a physical contact sport but I don’t think it’s violent because it’s a sport.”

Teammate Dawson Kremlacek doesn’t think of Kendall as a girl when she’s on the mat, says the Lynx 113-pound varsity wrestler.

“Male or female? Anybody can enjoy a sport,” he says. “Brandon Valley, as a school and our wrestling program, is like a big family. We just open our arms and go in with an open mind.”

And it’s that welcoming attitude that has made Kendall feel right at home in the Lynx wrestling room. After moving to Brandon from Pennsylvania, where she also wrestled, in late December, Kendall said she wanted to continue on in the sport. “I just wanted to do it again because I was already wrestling there,” she said. “I guess I like it because it’s something you can be dedicated to and work at. It takes a lot of work, and it’s not just easy.”

Since her start here at Brandon Valley, Kendall hasn’t won a match in her five to six opportunities on the mat. “I’ve gotten pinned sometimes. I haven’t won a match,” she confesses.

But she has tasted success in her young wrestling career. As an eighth grader, she recalls losing 7-1 to a teammate there in a tournament, but then pulled off a 3-2 win by decision against a wrestler from Dover, Pa.

Kendall, who also plays softball, got interested in the sport while sitting in the stands cheering her brothers, now 19 and 13, on in the sport. Her father, Brian, was also a wrestler.

“My dad took me to a lot of tournaments when I was little, so I thought it would be cool to be on the team,” she said. “He knows a lot of moves and supports it,” as does her mother, Shannon.

She joined the wrestling program as an eighth grader in Pennsylvania, then took two years off to focus on schoolwork before getting back into the sport this season.

But just because she’s a girl, Kendall says she doesn’t want her teammates or opponents to go easy on her.

“(I want them to) treat me just like any other wrestler,” she said. “We’re both trying to win, why take it an easy on me, (because) I’d feel really weird if the guys did that.”

But Kendall says she is appreciative that coaching staff, teammates and their parents accepted her into the program.
“When you step on the mat,” she says, “you’re both athletes, whether you’re a girl or a guy.”

As the 2013-14 wrestling season closes out, Kendall looks forward to her senior season and a goal of competing at the varsity level.

“That’s the goal,” she said. “I’m a pretty big competitor, and I’ll always try to get that.”

And while Kendall is the first female on Brandon Valley High’s wrestling roster, it’s possible that she may not be the last.

“It always takes that one person to break the ice,” says Kremlacek.

Junior Katelyn Kendall hand fights freshman Cole Woessner a recent wrestling practice. Kendall is the wrestling program's first female high school wrestler. Umaima Koch/BVHS Echo staff

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