Becoming All-American: The WSU women’s wrestling team

New WSU wrestling team in Pullman

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COURTESY OF CHEYENNE MORRISON

The 2022-23 WSU women’s wrestling team.

GABRIELLE BOWMAN, Evergreen reporter

When Makenna Buhl (she/they) reached out to WSU wrestling coach, Phil Burnett, about joining the wrestling team, she did not know that she would help create the girl’s wrestling team. 

The girl’s wrestling team started last year and has grown in numbers since then. The team started with women coming to the men’s wrestling team practices. They were unable to compete, only coming to home games and going against the mens during those practices. Last year the women’s wrestling team started with four to six women coming to practice consistently to now having 10 members and a continuously growing team. 

Buhl, senior animal management major, is the manager of the women’s team and helped found the team. Buhl said that when she came to the university she reached out to Burnett immediately about joining the team. However, there was not a women’s team to join. So, they started out as the manager for the men’s wrestling team. However, things would soon change for Buhl and their position on the team.

“[Burnett], I and James [wrestling team president] all agreed that we would be able to give this a shot and actually get a girl’s team started,” Buhl said. This statement soon became a reality for them. 

Buhl said what she enjoys most about the women’s team is that there are so many quirky people and that there are a bunch of different characters. A lot of the team gets along really well even as the team is growing the team is still learning about each other as people but as the season progresses, especially last year with such a big group for the first time they found ways to get along. 

The women’s team has made its place within the wrestling community and this was done because Buhl, Burnett and James Cox, senior management information systems and finance major, who is the team president and team captain.

“Coach Phil drives hours and hours to get here every week from Auburn, Enumclaw area and he comes here then drives back on the weekends so seeing that level of commitment to people that are young like us is a big deal,” Cox said. 

COURTESY OF SUSAN BURNETT
Phil Burnett, coach of WSU wrestling poses next to the support WSU wrestling sign along Washington Highway 26.

Mariama Jobe, junior political science and biology major, is the financial manager for the team. Jobe was one of the people who came to practices before the team was established. She emailed Burnett and he said that they did not have a women’s wrestling team but that she could come to practice. She was glad she came to the practices because now they do have an official women’s wrestling team, she said.

“Now that we have a lot of women on the team and we have [an] official WSU wrestling women’s team we get to travel and I actually get to compete,” Jobe said. “Last year I went to nationals for the first time ever, that was exciting. I love it. I am so glad I stayed through it.” 

Many members express the love and friendship that the team embodies and that it is the reason they grew close and what made them stay on the team. What she enjoyed most about the women’s wrestling team is that it is like a family, everyone is really nice and she has not had a bad experience with anyone on the team, said Sarah Plummer, freshman sports medicine major.

Plummer knows she is among friends when she walks in the door. She expressed that she looks up to Julie Wilson, sophomore engineering major. Wilson let Plummer visit her dorm and introduced herself when Plummer came to visit campus last year. Julie is really inspiring to watch and she is an amazing wrestler, she said.

The wrestling team as a whole is a community but they are still there to support everyone individually and to get a payout from all of the hard work that is put in by the teammates and the coaches. The team strives to win the 2023 National Collegiate Wrestling Association Northwest Conference Championships to then host the 2024 Championships.    

The wrestling team’s goal is to promote community, build strong relationships and be competitive and according to teammates, this goal has been achieved. They do not have to worry about somebody else tearing them down and taking that love from them. They can just focus on wrestling and have fun with other people who enjoy it as well, Buhl said.