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Amateur wrestling is most often thought of as a sport for young men and as a fine way for them to learn discipline and technique while utilizing their natural strength and aggression in a positive setting.
It's not often thought of as way for young ladies to do the same, but Reed-Custer's Savannah Morrison is breaking down preconceived notions about what it takes to compete on the mat.
The freshman, who has a solid 10-6 record, has been into wrestling for nearly all her life, picking the sport up at a young age via those close to her.
"I've been wrestling for 11 years; I started when I was 4," Morrison recently told Will County Gazette. "When I was 3, I went to see my brother wrestle at a really big tournament, and I said, 'I want to do that.' My friend did it too, so they just kind of pulled me into it."
Since then, Morrison has been honing her skills, and she now competes in the 113-pound division for Reed-Custer, primarily against boys. She has been able to use her speed and lower body strength to her advantage -- and as her record shows, she's been mostly successful.
She's also struggled at times matching up with the raw physicality of the boys -- and occasionally hears a disparaging remark about her gender -- but the 15-year-old doesn't let it get to her. She's using her experiences at this level to hopefully push on to greater heights in the sport.
"I'm really hoping to wrestle in college and I really want to go into the Olympics," she said. "That's something that I've always wanted to do. Right now, I'm also working on getting on an all-girls freestyle team, because in the Olympics, they wrestle freestyle, and that's a division that I love to do. So I have to be able to do that. It's an Illinois state team. I have to win state, go to nationals, do offseason tournaments, workouts, and hopefully get accepted by the Junior Olympics."
In the meantime, she's concentrating on improving aspects of her game. She said she's trying to get better at shooting, which is a way to score takedowns, and she's also hoping to move up a weight class in the future.
"I'm at a good weight at 113, but sometimes the lower weight class guys have trouble and need to move up, so then I have to move up to 120," Morrison said. "I eventually want to do 120 more than 113 because I like eating. I feel like at 120, the guys stop having as much muscle as they do at 113. The guys at 113 are all just pure muscle, but 120 is a little bit more fat than just all muscle."
After the regular season, the wrestlers all compete in regionals. If they make it out of regionals, they head to sectionals -- and then over to the state tournament if they can get past sectionals. Morrison hopes to be there at the season's conclusion.
"It's different for me because I go to girls' state through a club organization, which is all of Illinois and it's in every state," she said. "So, if I go to girls' sectionals this year and make it out of there and go to girls' state and I win girls' state, I get the chance to go to nationals for Illinois state."