Hamilton-Wenham Generals Wrestling '07-'08

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H-W's Einhorn, Karrlson-Willis succeed as female wrestlers

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Friday, December, 14 By Nick Turczak
Staff writer

Most high school students spend their time wrestling a variety of activities in a given day: going to school, juggling homework, athletic and work obligations, and spending time with friends and family.

Nora Einhorn and Charlotte Karrlson-Willis are no different than their peers in that they wrestle with all of those items | plus an additional one.

They actually wrestle.

The two Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School students spend a good part of their winter season wrestling on the Generals' varsity team. In a male-dominated sport, they are two of the team's five senior captains.

Einhorn, who is wrestling in the 119-pound class this winter, and Karrlson-Willis, who will wrestle in the 125 lb category, both competed on the junior varsity squad their freshman and sophomore years of high school, facing several obstacles that most student-athletes don't.

"Many times on the JV level, we would have either the wrestler themselves | or the opposing coach | decide they were uncomfortable wrestling us," said Karrlson-Willis of their male opponents.

"Occasionally, the opposing coach would tell us they didn't have anyone in our weight class, yet before the meet started their roster had someone listed (at that weight class). So we knew it was an excuse."

Experience became hard to gain as opponents continued to pull out of matches against them. But Einhorn and Karrlson-Willis have worked diligently in practice over the years to improve their skills.

"They practice against each other, but more so against the guys on the team. That includes anyone between the 112 and 145-pound weight classes," said Mark Bowden, who coached the H-W wrestlers a year ago. "They have commanded and earned respect of their teammates due to their attitude and focus."

Einhorn and Karrlson-Willis each played sports before entering high school, but didn't wrestle. The two girls met playing soccer after Karrlson-Willis moved into the area before seventh grade. In the winter months, Einhorn skied while Karrlson-Willis played basketball. Karrlson-Willis was the first to get a hold of the wrestling bug. "I was too short for basketball and played too aggressively, as I fouled out in a lot of games," she admitted with a chuckle. "I was looking for sports that would keep me in shape. We did a unit on wrestling in gym class, and I followed it up from there."

Karrlson-Willis then went to Einhorn, hoping to convince her to join the team. She did not want to be the lone female on the squad, she said.

"I wanted to stay in good shape athletically and I grew up with all boys, so I was already comfortable rough-housing with boys," said Einhorn. "The transition was actually pretty smooth."

Smooth enough that even after Einhorn broke her collarbone last year as a junior, it wouldn't deter her from wrestling again this winter as a senior.

Practicing against a variety of different-sized male opponents has forced the girls to greatly focus on technique and flexibility to overcome the deficit in muscle mass.

Unlike in competition, finding willing opponents during practice has never been a problem for the two girls, who give a lot of credit to their teammates.

"The guys on the team are very mature," said Einhorn. "I think they see me as one of them now because of all that we've gone through together.

"Without the support of our teammates, we wouldn't have the confidence to continue this process. They've become like brothers."

Karrlson-Willis agreed completely. "The guys have been very supportive," she said. "Sometimes we feel they don't get the attention they deserve because some of them have done some great things in their careers."

Some of the team atmosphere and camaraderie must be attributed to the Generals' coaching staff, who made it clear when the girls first began participating in the sport that everyone would be treated equally. Neither Einhorn or Karrlson-Willis would want it any other way.

"The team understands that everyone has to earn a spot | and it doesn't matter to us or them if they have to go through Nora, Charlotte or any other guy," said Hamilton-Wenham's first-year head coach, Todd Darling.

The other senior captains have enjoyed going through the daily rigors of wrestling with their teammates, which include Einhorn and Karrlson-Willis.

"They have earned their spots and been great teammates," said H-W captain Jeff Goodrich. "Wrestling is so mentally and physically taxing that we're mostly focused on what we have to do, not whether we're facing a guy or girl."

Fellow Generals' captain Ryan Hanna said when it comes to Einhorn and Karrlson-Willis, gender isn't even an issue. "Those of us who have been with them over the years view the girls the same as we do everyone else on the team," "Often times, we don't even see gender."

Einhorn and Karrlson-Willis also coach Special Olympics soccer together in the fall. That endeavor, combined with wrestling, creates a five-month stretch where they see each other almost every day.

"We've both been through the same trials and tribulations | making weight and getting beat up | which are things my other girlfriends can't understand," said Einhorn. "So Charlotte and I are very close because we are the only ones who truly know."

1 Story Comments

0         HockeyFan22

this story is great. looooooooooooooove to hear that. A+

Report! #1 12/14/2007 11:48 PM