From track to mat

Senior girl first to join wrestling team

Delilah Woods, Staff Reporter

She walks into a large gym that smells of metallic weights and sweat. The lump in her throat grows as her nerves kick in, but not because of the gym’s aroma. She is the only girl in a gym full of male wrestlers.

Senior Ina Edstrom’s drive to better herself led to her joining the all male wrestling team this year. She is the first girl to join our wrestling team. After reviewing her options, the pole vaulter decided that this physical training class would allow her to improve the skills she needed when competing in her field event.

“There’s no track class during the day,” Ina said. “There’s only cross country. Last year I didn’t do the cross country period or any sports during the class day and I felt like I was getting behind. I looked at the choice sheet for classes, and I was like  ‘well there’s wrestling on here; maybe I could do that.’ I emailed the coach and he was super nice about it. I just ended up joining [the wrestling team].”

Jenna Edstrom
Ina Edstrom lifts weights in the weight room during practice.

This was the first year Ina trained with the wrestlers, and the head coach says the boys treat her as they’d treat any other teammate. Head wrestling coach Paul Muck said she is always putting forth a positive attitude during the workouts they do on a daily basis. Coach Muck also pointed out Ina’s focus, effort and attitude as part of what sets her apart from other athletes.

“Ina does a great job doing exactly what I ask her to do,” Muck said. “She is very focused on perfect technique on all of our lifts and always gives great effort with a positive attitude. Athletes that do those three things are very easy to work with.”

Ina broke school records for track throughout the season, and her coaches say they have an abundance of appreciation for her dedication to the sport. Ina’s pole vault coach, as well as coach Muck, point out the importance of her focus while she is training and competing.

“Whether Ina is at practice or competing in a pole vault event, she is always focused, determined, and driven to perform at her best,” pole vault coach Laura Joiner said. “Ina has proven to be an elite pole vaulter with all the personal and school records she set this season.  I’m excited to see her enjoy continued success as a college pole vaulter!”

Setting foot into a new gym can be overwhelming especially if the surroundings and obstacles feel far from ones usual comfort zone. In this case, the only obstacle that came with joining the wrestling team was keeping up with the weights the boys were lifting.

“I guess it’s like I can do most of the things they can do,” she said. “It’s just like when we do weight training I have lower weights because I’m not like, obviously I’m not a boy, so I’m not that strong. But yeah I can do bodyweight exercises about the same as them. I can do pullups and when they do ab workouts I can do that too.”

Ina’s practice in wrestling carried over to her track meets. Ina qualified for the Texas Relays track meet on April 12. Coaches from colleges such as UT San Antonio and Angelo State University have approached Ina about joining their track teams.

“[Texas Relays] was a really good experiences,” Ina said. “Because there were a lot of coaches there watching from colleges, like one guy came up to me he was telling me he wanted me to go to their school.”

Jenna Edstrom
Ina clears the pole at the Texas Relays.

When she competes, Ina is able to showcase the practice put into her event. During area, region and districts she placed in her track events.

“[Area] was really fun,” Ina said. “I was not worrying about qualifying for the next round, but it was a close competition between me and one girl for first. We both cleared 12 feet and then she decided to skip over 12’3″ and go to 12’6”. I decided not to skip it. I cleared it and she didn’t make it on the next height. I ended up beating her because she skipped the height.”

Returning from a back injury earlier this season, Ina says she hasn’t lost the drive for pole vault. Before the small injury that caused her to ease up last season, Ina won the AAU Junior Olympics in 2017. Later on after making the win she had injured her back and had to take a small break to rest, only to come back with more strength and dedication.

“I think I improved a lot sophomore year,” Ina said, “I went to the junior olympics that summer and I was doing really good, and then all of a sudden I hurt my back. Then i couldn’t jump for a whole year. It kind of set me back and now my back feels way better, now I’ve been just improving steadily.”

Throughout the obstacles she faced in her athletic career, Ina says she kept a positive outlook on the future and continues to look ahead with that same optimistic point of view.

“I feel like I’ve learned it’s okay; life happens,” Ina said. “Bad stuff happens, and you just gotta push through and eventually it can get better.”