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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Girl wrestler ‘takes down’ gender barrier

The sound of a body hitting the carpet, the bang of a limb as it is sprawled across the couch, the crash of a lamp breaking: the sounds that accumpany growing up with two older brothers for freshman wrestler Jessica Barnhisel. Every winter boys try out for the wrestling team. This year, there was a change in the line-up, as Barnhisel tried out for the wrestling team.

According to Timothy Cichowski, freshman wrestling coach, Barnhisel is one of three girls to be on the wrestling team in South’s history. What separates Barnhisel from the others is that she has lasted longer than any of the rest.

“I wanted to because it sounded fun, and it makes you a better person,” Barnhisel said. “It’s not like a sport, it’s a way of life.”

Barnhisel comes from a family of wrestlers. Her brother, Kiel Barnhisel, was a three-time state qualifier in 2001, 2002, and 2003 at South, in addition to being a four-time all-conference wrestler and a two-time Regional and Sectional champion. When he was in college, he was one match away from being an All-American wrestler.

“It’s kind of hard to stay away when you have five state qualifiers, one champ, and an NCAA D1 starter in the family,” Jessica said. “I’ve wanted to [wrestle] since I was little.”

Initially, Jessica’s family didn’t support her decision and tried to discourage her from going out for the team. According to Michelle Gutowski, Jessica’s mom, she told Jessica that it was a boys’ sport, and that she didn’t like the physical contact of wrestling.

“How physical [wrestling] is, and how demanding it is, I never anticipated a girl being able to compete,” Jessica’s father Jack Barnhisel said.

According to Jack, girls are outmatched strength-wise in wrestling. He took Jessica to tournaments, matches and he let her take a wrestling camp, thinking that would derail her from wanting to compete. It only made her more willing to try and work harder.

“I sent her to camps and I gave her personal instruction, and she’s getting much better,” Jack said. “It appears like she may actually be able to compete, which I didn’t think was possible a year ago when this started.”

Freshman wrestler Shouki Shuunnarah said he has more respect for her because not many girls at GBS would have the guts to try out for the team.

Shuunnarah said Jessica is a good teammate and is one on the leaders on the freshman team.

In practice, Shuunnarah wrestles Jessica and, according to him, it isn’t awkward since she’s experienced with wrestling.

“She’s a hard worker, and she’s determined to be successful at it,” Cichowski said.

According to Cichowski, he wasn’t surprised when he saw Jessica trying out because wrestling is in her blood.

“She has a passion for wrestling with a great attitude,” Thomas Mietus, varsity wrestling coach, said.

According to Mietus, Jessica is a dedicated athlete who wants to get better and compete.

“She has the work ethic that I want in a wrestler,” Mietus said. “She goes through workouts, she’s surviving them and never complaining, and she’s going to be well respected by her teammates because of that.”

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