Wrestling's return to Olympic games creates more opportunity for women

By Marshanna Hester

September 18, 2013 Updated Sep 19, 2013 at 9:29 AM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- East Peoria wrestler Katlyn Carpentier has earned the respect of her follow teammates.

"I started with basketball and a little cross country, but I've never done anything as extreme as this," she said.

The senior knows it takes hard work to win. That's why she and other wrestling athletes are weight training before it's officially time to hit the mats this fall.

Senior Casey McWhirter hopes to win state.

"If I can just keep my head down and keep focused on what I've got to do, I can definitely bring home some gold," he said. "That would be nice to follow in Lucas' footsteps last year."

It's also his dream to win international gold.

That idea faded in February when international Olympic committee decided to get rid of wrestling for another sport.

However, a recent vote keeps one of the oldest competitions on the list of 25.

"See, they knew they made a mistake," said McWhirter. "They just needed all of us tough guys to tell them they did."

"In the U.S., the Olympics is a big deal and kind of having that void there when it was going on, it was kind of a let down," said East Peoria wrestling coach Phil Johns, Il.

To get back in the games, wrestling's international governing body had to overhaul its rules, including adding two weight classes for women.

The excitement felt in Argentina when the decision was made was felt in East Peoria too, especially for competitors like Carpentier.

"A lot of people don't think of girls being able to do that kind of stuff and it's actually surprising," she said. "And honestly, like sometimes, it's cooler to watch girls wrestle because you don't see it as much."

"I think it's come a long way and it's given girls and women another channel of sports," said Coach Johns.

It's motivation for all grapplers to reach a level of success one can only muscle to achieve.