COLFAX — The crowd was roaring. Coaches and fellow wrestlers were watching the mat closely. Sweat dripped down Colfax-Mingo junior, Ilia Hostetter’s face.
She had just finished her second match in the All-Girls High School Wrestling Tournament at Ogden High School.
After losing her first match to Olivia Diggins of Logan-Magnolia by fall in 58 seconds, the first-year wrestler awaited the results of her bout against Osage’s Kate Mostek.
In a 7-4 decision, Hostetter won her first match as a member of the Colfax-Mingo wrestling team.
“When (the official) raised up my hand, I was like, ‘Yeah!’ ... My grandma was up in the bleachers going crazy. She was yelling ‘Yeah, good job,’” Hostetter said. “I was representing our team.”
Although Hostetter did not take first-place honors in the tournament, the C-M junior made history Jan. 6. As the sole wrestler from Colfax-Mingo, the 16-year-old was one of the 11 high school athletes who participated in the first high school all-girls wrestling tournament in the state of Iowa.
“It kind of took me back. We were being a part of history in that sense, and we were just trying to get our young ladies matches,” C-M athletic director Zach Tomas, who attended the tournament, said. “(Hostetter’s) grit and determination pulled through. It was just a proud moment. I was proud of the fact she was a part of this and had some success as well.”
The C-M wrestler competed in the 128-pound weight class Jan. 6, pitting her against four other female wrestlers.
South Central Calhoun’s Keagan King ended up defeating Hostetter in her third and final match by fall over in 1 minute, 9 seconds. This placed the C-M junior fourth overall in her weight division.
“The two girls who beat me seemed like they had been wrestling for quite a while, but it was good because I got the feel of what it is like for someone to go 100 percent with me,” she said. “The girl that I beat said it was her first time wrestling ,too. It was really close, but it was really fun.”
According to C-M wrestling coach Erin Hume, Hostetter is the only female high school wrestler competing in Jasper County this year. Hume said this trend continued throughout the Class 1A division, and with Hostetter’s parents’ request for the 16-year-old to only wrestle other female athletes, the coach said the wrestler has not been able to compete.
“I haven’t had the chance to compete anywhere else. There was a couple tournaments before where I thought I was going to wrestle, but I wasn’t able to, so that was a disappointment,” the C-M junior said. “It was really exciting because I knew for sure that I could wrestle that day.”
Hume said Colfax-Mingo has always had a history of having female athletes on the wrestling team. He said with at least one female wrestler on the team every year since he began teaching, it was only natural that the Tigerhawks were represented at the first all-girls high school tournament in Iowa.
“Clear back when I was in high school here, Ashley Pender was a district qualifier for us. She was one of the first girls in the state of Iowa to make it to the postseason,” the wrestling coach said. “We had to help show the state that this is something popular and is going to grow. We had to make sure she got over there and compete, and be a part of that first one.”
Although the 16-year-old originally joined the wrestling team to simply get into better shape for track and cross country, Hostetter said the sport is slowly growing on her.
“It is no big deal that I don’t compete against boys, I am still a part of the team. They treat me like everyone else,” Hostetter said. “We always consider each other family.”
The wrestling coach said he and the rest of the team were at the PCM Invitational in Monroe when Hostetter hit the mats at the tournament in Ogden. He said the moment they heard Hostetter was competing, they began cheering. Hume said that win meant a lot to the team because it showed that Hostetter’s hard work was finally paying off.
“When a wrestler finally wins their first match, I am like, ‘Thank you’ because that means everything we are doing is worth something,” the wrestling coach said. “She has only missed one practice all season. So when she comes in and is part of the team, we know she is going to be here, work hard and there is not going to be any complaining.”
The Tigerhawks currently have one other female wrestler on the team – senior Abby Jones. Hume said Jones decided to not compete in tournaments this year, but agreed to help Hostetter run drills during practice.
Hume said there are currently two other female athletes who are a part of the wrestling team at the middle school level. Hume and Tomas said they hope other female athletes will follow Hostetter’s lead and join the team next year. They said they hope one day Colfax-Mingo will be among the first schools in the state to have an all-girls wrestling team.
“It is really fun and the whole team and the coaches are welcoming,” Hostetter said. “Who says girls can’t do it?”
Contact Anthony Victor Reyes at firstname.lastname@example.org