Punahou Wrestling Girls Style

Department: Athletics

By Tom Holden, Athletic director

Although Title IX legislation, passed by Congress in 1972, helped to increase the participation opportunities and college scholarships for girls and women in many sports, girls wrestling is still trying to gain the respect it deserves. Nationally, there are approximately 5,000 high school girls competing in wrestling compared to 250,000 boys. Hawai‘i is one of only three states (besides Texas and California) where girls compete for League and State titles as a separate division. In the other states, girls compete against the boys or not at all.

Punahou’s Girls Varsity Wrestling team roster this year has 15 girls competing in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu (ILH). Senior Kara Takasaki exemplifies the drive of many of our girl wrestlers to succeed in this traditionally male-driven sport. Kara won the ILH title as a freshman (placing 5th in States) and then repeated as State Champion in her sophomore (130 lbs.) and junior (140 lbs.) years. This year she will be seeking her third straight title. In addition to these local titles, Kara was selected as an Academic All-American Wrestler in 2006 by the National High School Coaches’ Association (NHSCA).

Kara’s wrestling interests started in seventh grade. She says she began because “I didn’t have a sport to play after soccer season, and because my brother and my dad were totally against me joining and I was hardheaded!” Competing in wrestling presented Kara with some unique challenges. Kara is a Type I diabetic, a condition diagnosed when she was two years old. This is a significant obstacle due to the nature of the sport, which by design requires sudden, massive releases of sugar into the blood.

In addition to the physical challenges, there ar e the stereotypes associated with the sport. Kara points out the difficulty in recruiting other girls to join the team because of the perceived image that you have to “be like men to be wrestlers.” At home, Kara says, “My grandparents and my mom were really against me wrestling just because it’s not something they think girls should be doing. They wanted me to continue soccer and not quit dancing”.

Kara enjoys the rigorous discipline the sport instills and says the common struggle to improve levels the differences between boys and girls. Looking ahead to the 2007 season, Kara notes, “This year has been by far the best year for team chemistry not only between the boys and girls but just all around. This year it’s been really good as far as team dynamics.”

Kara recently placed first at the prestigious Maui Invitational Pre-Season Tournament, finishing with pins in the semifinals and finals. Although she has repeatedly been contacted by the Olympic Training Center and several colleges and universities, she is not interested in continuing her wrestling pursuits after high school. “I don’t think the Olympics are for me, mostly because of the health issue with my diabetes. But also, I love to wrestle because of the Punahou wrestling program and our team. I don’t think I would love the sport as much if I were to do it in another place.”

Editor’s note: Kara Takasaki ’07 won her third state title this year while Girls Wrestling placed fourth in the state competition. Boys Wrestling won the state championship title for the first time since 1968.

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