Kennedy girls grow tighter, more competitive, in first year of sanctioned wrestling

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 6:39 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - In the first year of girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport in Iowa, Cedar Rapids Kennedy team is bigger - and closer - than they’ve ever been.

For Senior Gwen Canney, wrestling at Kennedy means more than just wins and losses

“Wrestling is a family it’s unlike any sport I’ve ever been in before,” Canney said “It’s just I’m just speechless it’s just the best thing I’ve ever ever been a part of.”

The emotions run high for Canney, only in her second year ever wrestling

“It also makes me sad because I just wish I could’ve joined sooner.”

The Kennedy girls family has doubled since last year, after the IGHSAU officially sanctioned girls wrestling.

The team is big enough to have their own practice without the boys, but still small enough to remain close.

“With these girls there’s more of a family aspect then with any team I’ve ever coached,” said head coach Craig Mallicoat.

Since it’s a sanctioned sport, to make state, a girl need to finish in the top four in the district tournament, so the competition to get to state has never been tougher.

“This year is definitely a lot more pressure,” Canney said. “Only one wrestler per weight per school is allowed to go.”

Win or lose the girls know it’s a historic year, not just for them, but for those who hit the mat next.

“I just know for future generations and younger girls. It just makes me so excited for them because they’ll get to grow up with wrestling in their lives.”