POCATELLO — Girls in the community hit the mats recently at a female wrestling camp presented by Pocatello Grapplers Wrestling Club. Members of Campbellsville University’s female wrestling team, Koral Sugiyama and Morgan Becker, were invited as guest technicians.
Sugiyama is a Pocatello High School 2015 graduate and was a member of Pocatello High School’s wrestling team. She’s now the No. 2 ranked United States Senior Women’s Freestyle Wrestler at 57 kilograms, or about 125 pounds. Becker is a three-time winner of All-American freestyle and All-American folkstyle nationals.
Roughly 15 girls of all school ages levels attended the full-day camp, learning techniques and developing skills from Sugiyama and Becker. For many girls, this was their first time wrestling, according to J.B. Plato, head coach of Pocatello Grapplers Wrestling Club.
The camp was held in part to draw positive attention to women’s wrestling, which is seeing an increase in numbers and participation.
“I want to bring awareness to women’s wrestling,” Sugiyama said. “Awareness from parents, the community, and the girls themselves, and help them understand it’s becoming more common and it’s a thing that girls do.”
Sugiyama, who has been wrestling since the eighth grade, has noticed the boom in female participation of the sport. When she wrestled at state championships in high school, she explains that there were only about five girls wrestling. “Now they’re thinking of having their own division,” Sugiyama said.
“One of the biggest reasons would be that there are more collegiate teams being made, and more states that have all girls wrestling,” Becker said. “It’s opened the doors for girls to see it’s not just a boy’s sport.”
It was Plato who brought Sugiyama back to the mats she once wrestled on.
“This (camp) has been something I’ve been wanting to do with Koral,” said Plato, who is also head coach of Pocatello High School’s wrestling team. “Since I know that women’s wrestling is starting to pick up steam, I wanted to bring in a lot of girls from the area and learn from one of the best.”
One girl who attended the camp was Nicole Rue, an upcoming senior on Pocatello High Schools’ wrestling team. Rue, who has been wrestling since she was 7, hopes to place at state at the end of the wrestling season.
“Koral has definitely taught me a lot better techniques and better take downs,” Rue said. “I’m not the best at taking down, but I’m good at bottom, so this will help a lot.”
Plato hoped that the camp will give the girls more faith in themselves.
“This will give them more confidence to get out there and wrestle the guys during the season and not be timid, as well as know that they have the tools and right techniques so they can get out there and wrestle with no problem,” he said.