Female wrestlers take to the mat at Oak Park and River Forest High School

OAK PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- High school girls wrestling is described as an emerging sport while organizers seek IHSA Tournament approval, and it's certainly on the rise at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

"For my time in the community, there was just a girl here or there," said Coach Fred Arkin. "Now in Illinois, it is growing exponentially."

Wrestler Louise Calkins said, "Joining a sport that is male dominated, especially how good the boys' team is here, you want to like prove them wrong. But they told us they are going to treat us just like the boys and work as hard as them and we need to kick it up four notches, so the hardest part is probably practice."

Kennedy Dickens is also a wrestler at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

"Sometimes I get good reactions and other times, like my great grandmother who says, 'That's not very lady like.' I told my grandfather and he said, 'You know, I used to wrestle and I was like, now me.'"

Meanwhile, wrestler Sadie Scheer said she enjoys the hands-on nature of the sport.

"Like personally, I'm a more hands-on learner and it just kind of fit my personality and learning style," Scheer said.

Coach Arkin said he expects to see more girls pursue wrestling in Illinois.

"I've been around the sport long enough to know that it is. The foundation has been laid. The girls are looking for something different. They are looking for a challenge," he said.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.