Girls wrestling team officially created

Group learns teamwork mentality, wrestles in dual, invitational meets

Molly Burke, Sports Editor

Last year was the first time the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) offered a State Series and season for female wrestlers. LT had a couple of girls who wrestled in the regular season, but were not ready for the State tournament at that point, Athletic Director John Grundke said. This year, the boys wrestling varsity head coach Griff Powell and Grundke made announcements and reached out to recruit girls to form a possible team.

“This is a great opportunity for these girls because most of them have wrestled before or participated in similar activities, like taekwondo or martial arts, but not in a team atmosphere through the school,” Grundke said. “From what I’ve seen, most of the girls haven’t played any sports at LT before wrestling, so it’s another opportunity for them to get involved.”

The first day of practice, the team had 14 girls come out, but Powell is hopeful that this number will continue to grow, he said. The team practices in the Vaughan gym with the boys team. The coaches are able to move between both teams at all levels to assist with all wrestlers, as the Athletic Department didn’t start with a girls coach, but recently hired Darwin Depina to be the girls’ official head coach.

“I don’t find any difficulty with going between the girls and boys practices,” Powell said. “We have the same expectations for all of our athletes, it will be helpful with our official girls coach so the girls have a ‘go-to’ coach at practices and matches.”

Right now, the girls are scheduled to wrestle against teams in the West Suburban Conference as well as some weekend tournaments, including the Batavia Invitational on Jan. 14 and the Oak Park River Forest Invitational on Jan. 28, Powell said. At their first tournament of the season at Niles West Invitational, on Nov. 26, 21 teams participated with 171 girls. Madeline Pieroni ‘26                           and Siena Garcia-Rizzo ‘25 both took fourth and Ella Tamburello ‘26 placed fifth in their weight class.

“I want to get the girls as much experience as possible so they’re prepared when the State [Series] comes around,” Powell said. “We’re looking to add more tournaments for them on the weekends throughout the season to do so.”

The majority of the team is underclassmen, with only one senior, two juniors and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. Alexandra Flores ‘23 first wanted to join wrestling during her freshman year, but since there wasn’t a girls team, she felt completely out of place and didn’t think she could participate, she said. With her new team, she knows they have made the group into a place where everyone can contribute and help each other out.

“This team is one of the most welcoming teams I’ve ever been on, I wouldn’t change any aspect of it,” Flores said. “I know we have each other’s backs through all the hardships and we will give it our all no matter what.”

There are 14 total weight classes for girls; starting at 100 lbs, the weight increases by five pounds until it reaches 145 lbs, then moves up to 155 lbs and keeps increasing until 235 lbs. Powell believes that spacing out the weight class will be the biggest challenge at dual meets since there are a smaller number of girls, he said.

“I’m hoping that when we wrestle other teams, we can do the best job possible distributing the girls in the different classes,” Powell said.

The girls team will compete next at York High School on Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.