KINGSLEY — Rachel Dreeszen had never wrestled a match in her life. The thought had never even crossed her mind.
That is until late November when a friend and classmate at Kingsley-Pierson High School, Shae Muecke, asked her to join her on the Panthers’ team. Muecke’s parents were not allow her to wrestle unless there was at least one other girl on the team.
Why not? So Dreeszen threw her hat in the ring and went to work learning a new sport in her senior year. And when people scoffed at her, told her she couldn’t do it, that she didn’t belong, that wrestling is a man’s sport, well, that just added further fuel to Dreeszen’s fire.
Not only did Dreeszen earn a spot on the varsity squad at 182 pounds, it went far beyond the high school season. Dreeszen recently competed for Team Iowa in the Border Brawl Dual with Nebraska, an all-female wrestling extravaganza. Dreeszen not only won her match, but she pinned a highly-respected opponent, one of three pins for Team Iowa.
Now, Dreeszen’s new sport has taken her far beyond anything she ever dreamed. Dreeszen, who earned a scholarship to wrestle for the Waldorf College women’s team next season, was named the regional winner of the Tricia Saunders High School Excellence Award, which is named after a four-time World Champion and women’s wrestling pioneer.
And it all started with a simple gesture to help a friend achieve one of her goals.
“Charlotte Bailey actually asked me to fill out an application for the award. To be honest, I had totally forgotten about it until she called me up and told me I had won. I was at a a school event and I just started screaming. Then I went inside and told my Mom about it. It was unbelievable,” Dreeszen said. “There are only 92 female wrestlers in Iowa and out of all of them, (Bailey) contacted me. I wrestled in the girls state tournament in Norwalk and I finished second at 191 pounds. I think maybe that is where she first really noticed me.”
Dreeszen was all set to spend her winter lifting weights and cheering on her classmates in their various sports. All that changed when Muecke wanted to wrestle, but needed a female friend on the team. Dreeszen jumped at the opportunity to not only help a friend, but prove a few people wrong.
“She was the manager for the wrestling team and the coach (Blake Sappingfield) needed a 106-pounder, so she decided to go out and help the team. But her parents wouldn’t let her wrestle without a least one other girl on the team. I new her from FFA, so I decided to give it a try,” Dreeszen said. “I really wanted to get out there and compete. I started a week and a half into the season in early December, but then On Dec. 14 I was wrestling our heavyweight and he chipped my tooth and sprained my calf. I was out for two weeks, then came back and I got hurt again and had to sit out over the Christmas break. During that time, I cut weight from 220 pounds down to 195 so I could wrestle.”
Dreeszen soon found herself as the only girl on the team when Muecke suffered an injury. And when people started to doubt her abilities, that drove her all the more to succeed.
“It was difficult because for every tournament and meet except for one, I was the only girl in the entire building. I think being heavier made it better because people respected me more because I was more competitive than some of the girls at lower weights,” Dreeszen said. “I don’t know why people kept asking me about it, making a big deal out of it. I always do things that people say I can’t do. They said that girls aren’t strong enough, so I started lifting weights and pretty soon I was one of the strongest people in the weight room. But I never expected it to turn into something like this.”
Dreeszen said she plans to spend the summer working as a lifeguard and working out, getting ready to make the move up to the college level at Waldorf. She has plenty of motivation to prove more people wrong.
“I’m going to life weights and work out over the summer with some friends. I don’t feel like I’m trying unless I’m really pushed,” Dreeszen said. “I want to be the best wrestler I can be.”