How female wrestlers are paving the way in Wisconsin

National Championship plaque of Lakeland University female wrestler
Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 06, 2019

In the “Badger State,” female wrestling is growing.

Thanks to men's wrestling coach Ben Chapman, and his staff at Lakeland University, Wisconsin athletes like Katelyn and Maribel have a mat at the collegiate level.

"It was like a dream to me. When I heard about it, I was like wow. That's where I’m going to go," McFarland native and female wrestler Katelynn Gunderson said.

"I was crying to my coach, and he gave me a flyer. It said Lakeland is opening women's wrestling. I just remember thinking this is my chance,” Milwaukee native and female wrestler Maribel Dorantessaid.

Paving the way for future programs Chapman built a competitive roster completely comprised of local talent.

“A lot of the women we were recruiting are close with their families," Chapman said. "To be able to give their families an opportunity to come and support them and not have to travel six hours or eight hours away to continue watching them wrestle.”

He even managed to coach one Muskie to a national championship.

In early February, Denmark native, Jayden Laurent fought her way to the top becoming number one in the 143 pound weight class.

"I worked really hard for it. I couldn't have done it without my teammates and coaches, and it just feels so good," Laurent said. "I remember the last seconds of the match. I was so overwhelmed with emotions because I worked so hard and I know a lot of people put a lot of time into me. Our dream kind of came true."

Proving that the world distributes talent equally, if it can figure out how to hand out opportunity the same way - Champions are born.

"It just means everything that we get to be here and we get to take the first footsteps," Gunderson said.

"10 years from now we can look back on it and say we started that program," Laurent said. "I can't wait to see where it is 10 years from now."