The WWF will start the New Year with another women’s freestyle camp for 14U, 16U and Junior female wrestlers. The camp, at Shiocton High School on January 8th, is part of a series that started back in October aimed at bringing together Wisconsin female wrestlers and continuing momentum in developing a championship program.
These additional camps for the WFS program were implemented two seasons ago. Joining the program in a new way this year is Neysa Bianchi who was voted in as the Women’s Director.
Bianchi’s experience as a parent with the WWF started back when her sons were youth wrestlers aiming for a spot on the Goodwill Duals team, then the Schoolboy Duals team, then Fargo, etc. During that time she said they realized they were very much on the same team as other parents. “We’re all on the same journey and we’re trying to get to the same place,” said Bianchi. “There was more mutual respect for the amount of work we were putting in, parents and kids, and that’s where I realized we were in this great community, and I was impressed with how hard people were working.”
“The camps are going really well,” said Bianchi. “We have some great techniques that Head Coach Bryan Koontz shares with the coaches; it makes sense and it’s very methodical and planned out.”
Bianchi said she knew she might end up serving in some capacity when her youngest, Angie, followed in the footsteps of her brothers and joined wrestling. The years of experience she brings to the position are highlighted through her sons’ success in the WIAA system and, importantly, in the WWF system that exposed them to a different style and national-level competition that Bianchi believes was instrumental in getting her sons to college.
Part of what Bianchi sees as a priority for growing a championship program in Wisconsin includes creating a close-contact relationship with high school coaches. “What Pat Kilty and Laura Bartoszek (former Women’s directors) started by laying the groundwork with the club coaches was crucial because that’s where the girls were, but now it’s changing because the girls aren’t just at the clubs,” said Bianchi. “They’re in the high schools, so now we have to make that same relationship with the high school coaches and that’s what we need to open the doors to opportunities.”
The WIAA sanctioning girls' wrestling plays a significant role in growing the numbers and offering legitimacy to the sport. We are at a critical juncture where we need to provide education to the new rise of wrestlers in the state with everything available to them.
“There’s this great influx. We’re getting a lot of girls starting to wrestle,” said Bianchi. “But the problem is I think they don’t know, girls and parents and sometimes high school coaches also, they don’t know that girls wrestle freestyle in college . . . what we need to do is bring them into the fold, so that they understand the opportunities they can have if they transition over to freestyle in the spring just like the boys do.”
Freestyle wrestling for women is a gateway opportunity. “Girls need to understand that there are opportunities for college, for competing at very high levels, and there are job opportunities after college but the way to get there is through the WWF, and we need to show them that this is the path.”
As women’s wrestling continues to grow across the country, the wrestling community is experiencing an alignment with men’s wrestling in terms of qualifying procedures and opportunities. A primary difference still remains that boys' high school and college wrestling is folksyle, while girls wrestle folkstyle in high school and then switch to freestyle in college, making the Olympic style crucial for girls to learn in developmental years even while chasing individual state titles.
Some events to look forward to this coming freestyle season include Women’s Nationals (World Team Trials) in April, WWF freestyle state followed by Northern Plains Regional Championships in May, National Duals in June and then finally 16U and Junior Nationals in July. Depending on performance, wrestlers may qualify for age-level Pan-Am and World teams that compete internationally anywhere from June through December with USA Wrestling.
While that can be a lot to digest for newcomers to the sport, the starting point can be easy. The way forward, the way to capitalize on opportunities and to learn the ropes is simple. We work together, we learn from each other as we grow, we get on the mats, and we wrestle.
The WWF winter camp series is a great place to start learning freestyle and asking questions.
“Anytime we get a group of girls together we get better and we have fun,” said Bianchi. “We’re going in the right direction.”
Athletes and parents can contact Neysa Bianchi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The remaining camps in the WWF women’s freestyle series are on January 8th at Shiocton High School and February 5th at X-Factor Elite. Learn more online here.
The Wisconsin Wrestling Federation, guided by USA Wrestling, provides quality opportunities for its members to achieve their full human and athletic potential. Wisconsin Wrestling Federation will strive to be USA Wrestling’s best state organization.