By Melissa Whitcome
Special to the Appeal
It's Friday afternoon and school is just getting out. With it now being the weekend, it's not abnormal to see high school girls retreating to the mall for shopping or getting ready for a sleep over and movie night with their friends.
Most girls that is. But for one Yerington High school junior, Friday means just one more day of practice on the mat before a tournament the next day. And yes, a wrestling mat.
Rachel Skroch looks like your average teenager on the outside, but beneath her small 125 pound frame is someone who doesn't mind being different. Skroch started her wrestling career before she could even read, and although at the age of four she didn't realize what she was getting herself into, she knew she loved the sport.
Wrestling has been a family affair in the Skroch household, which is where she first got the idea. When the USA Wrestling youth season came around, the whole family thought it would be fun to lace up its shoes and give it a try.
Growing up with three older brothers can't always be easy, but it worked in her advantage. Her brothers are her biggest influences and often assist in improving her wrestling skills. She gave credit to her brother Stephen, also on the Yerington varsity team, saying technically he is one of the best wrestlers around and said she is inspired by her oldest brother David.
In this day and age when a female walks onto the mat, all heads turn and the whispers of disapproval starts. But in a male dominated sport, Skroch is used to the not so nice words from people who think girls should not wrestle. Although others may try to discourage her, Skroch's teammate are supportive and treat her just like one of the guys.
When she is approaching a match, it's always the same way, no matter if it's during the high school season against the boys or in the off season with Team Nevada at women's nationals. But according to Skroch, wrestling girls is not as much competition and she would rather have a bigger challenge.
The transition into high school wrestling can be exceptionally tough, but Skroch has exceeded expectations in her last few years by making the varsity lineup, winning matches, and prevailing in tournaments. After overcoming her biggest struggle in the past few years of cutting weight, Skroch has gone on to prove that just because she is a girl doesn't mean she is any less of a wrestler.
Back in December, Skroch fulfilled her greatest moment when she went 4-0 with four pins at the ROP Winter Games and became the first female wrestler to earn all-tournament honors. As for her own future goals, this year she hopes to place well enough in the Northern 3A tournament to make it to state. Next year as a senior, Skroch wants to place in the top three at state and possibly be only the second girl to ever win a state title.
So what was the one piece of advice Skroch could give to other girls who may want to try their hand in the wrestling world? Simply to work hard and never give up.