Freshman Paige Wehrmeister finds her strength in wrestling

February 1, 2019

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Jennifer Wehrmeister

Hand raised after her first pin of a male opponent, Wehrmeister grins at her triumph. “I feel like I am in control of them [when I’m on top], and if I wanted to I could control everything that was happening in that moment,” Wehrmeister said. “They can’t get up if I don’t let go.”

Freshman Paige Wehrmeister had not always seen herself as a strong person—then she started wrestling. Joining sophomore Emma Carter as one of two female wrestlers in Parkway, Wehrmeister has already carved out a reputation for herself: the girl who smiles every time she steps onto the mat.

“How did you feel when you first started?”

“I have always put everything out on the mat but I was very scared of being aggressive at first because I’m not a naturally aggressive person. It was really hard for me to be aggressive out on the mat,” Wehrmeister said. “I’ve learned that my aggressive isn’t really an angry aggressive, it’s more of a happy aggressive.”

Wrestling on the varsity lineup at 120 pounds, Wehrmeister has an 8-8 record between her matches against both boys and girls. With seven of her eight wins being pins, holding her opponent’s shoulder blades to the mat for two full seconds, Wehrmeister is quickly learning the skills it takes to succeed against a diverse range of opponents. She credits most of this growth to her coaches and the opposing boys she has faced.

“It’s sort of fun to wrestle [boys] because I feel like it’s a growing experience every time,” Wehrmeister said. “I feel like I can do a lot of things better and react to more things, because a lot of varsity boys have a lot more experience [than I do].”

Courtesy of @pwestwrestling Instagram
Wehrmeister has her hand raised after a win at the Mehlville Women’s Tournament Dec. 21.

“How is wrestling girls different than boys?”

“It’s so much more exhausting than wrestling guys,” Wehrmeister said. “They’re so much more speedy and quick and it’s really hard to sometimes keep up with other girls. It’s very exhausting, but I really like wrestling other girls because it feels like I’m equal on the physical level: guys have a lot more muscle but girls are flexible and fast.”

Wehrmeister laughs and collects her thoughts, reflecting on the broad range of experiences she has had this season, from her very first match four weeks into the season to placing fifth at the Mehlville Women’s Invitational Dec. 21.

“Wrestling is everybody’s sport, and everybody can wrestle in their own way—there’s not one way to wrestle. Everybody has their own style and technique,” Wehrmeister said. “I’ve found my own technique to wrestling; I don’t have to be super strong to do something and I know that mentally I can push through anything.”

Wehrmeister’s “happy aggression” defines her wrestling style, in her eyes: quick, energetic and persistent. She continues to develop it by treating every match as a learning experience and frequently asking her teammates to try different moves on her so that she can practice reacting.

At girls matches I saw a lot of different girls with different bodies, and everyone was all great with their bodies so I was like, ‘I’m good with mine too.’”

— Paige Wehrmeister

“How has the separate girls division influenced how you see the sport?”

“Girls and guys are so different in wrestling styles and body types. I feel like because I’ve been able to wrestle boys and definitely girls, I’ve been able to learn different styles of wrestling. It’s really helped me a lot because it helps me understand how my body works,” Wehrmeister said.

Seeing the representation of different body types in both girls and boys, all weighing the same as her, has helped Wehrmeister increase her self-confidence and self-image. At the start of the season, she was unsure of her body’s abilities—now, she savors every opportunity to go out on the mat and show what she is capable of.

“How do you stay happy, even when you lose?”

“I know that everybody out there does their best, so everyone really deserves a smile out on that mat,” Wehrmeister said. “Sometimes in my head I get down on myself because of losing, but I just remind myself that it’s my first year, and I can always do better, and I have time to work on everything.”

She pauses.

“I’ve found a sport that I really enjoy and that just makes me happy, so I want to be happy everywhere else too.”

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