First on the Mat

MN Sends First Female Wrestlers to State Tournament


The wrestlers are warmed up, hydrated, and ready to go. The bout is about to begin. Into the ring step… two girls?

From February 16-18, athletes from all over Nebraska gathered in the CHI Health Center to prove their skills in the state wrestling tournament. This year, for the first time ever, MN sent not one, but two female wrestlers: senior Hailey Siebrass and freshman Makenzie Martin, the team’s MVP for the season.

“[Going to state] was one of my biggest goals in wrestling altogether, so it really meant a lot to be able to just stand down there on the mats and look up and see the stadium full of people,” Siebrass said.

The three-day event was split into many rounds, all leading up to finals. Roughly half of the rounds were scheduled to include girls.

“It was definitely fun,” Martin said. “I saw a lot of girls I know from club wrestling and other places.”

With Siebrass going 2-2 and Martin 1-2, the girls set the precedent for future female competitors from MN.

“I was really proud of my performance in one of my matches,” Siebrass said. “It was a really good show and I put out some good technique. [The other girl] was crying the whole time.”

Christina Hansen, head coach of the girls’ wrestling team, returned for her second year of coaching MN and is extremely proud of how far the girls have come.

“It gives me such a sense of purpose to see each girl on the team grow into a wrestler but more so grow into themselves,” Hansen said. “I get to watch their personalities come out and watch each of them develop into more confident and daring individuals.”

Before official teams were instated, many girls found themselves wrestling on teams predominantly made up of boys.

However, with MN officially starting the girl’s wrestling team last school year, it’s given the girls the opportunity to fight and earn their spots in the ring. 

“My little brother wrestles, and one day when I was little I asked my dad if I could go to practice,” Martin said. “He said if I could make it through the practice he would buy me wrestling shoes, and that’s how I got started.”

In previous years, the lack of female representation in the sport has made it anything but easy for girls to get involved.

“Starting on boys’ teams, it was hard getting into it,” Siebrass said. “When I first started, you would never hear of a girl who wrestled. Now it’s gone from me being the only girl wrestler I’ve ever known to there being hundreds in the state of Nebraska.”

With more opportunities for girls’ wrestling opening up, there has been space for young women to improve in the sport and learn lessons through it.

“It’s an individual sport, so you have to be very independent,” Martin said. “You have to be mentally tough, and I’m not always very good at it, but I’m getting better.”

Overall, Seibrass and Martin agree that their time wrestling has been well spent, and both plan to continue in the future, with Martin hoping to compete in the state tournament throughout her high school career, and Siebrass receiving a full scholarship to wrestle in college.

“It’s taught us to be really strong and confident in ourselves, and helped our ability to learn from our mistakes,” Siebrass said.

While this year’s state tournament has passed, the girls’ wrestling team looks to the future, with hopes of competing on a statewide scale for years to come.