Austin ISD’s girl wrestlers boasted state tournament appearances from seven different squads this season. Akins, Bowie, Lanier, LBJ, McCallum, Reagan and Travis wrestlers all made the championship tournament.

Tabithia Ramsey, LBJ’s wrestling coach and herself a former Austin ISD standout on the mat, said the sport is growing in popularity year after year. More girls means more competition, and that makes the matches, and the wrestlers, that much better.

“They get to compete in more matches, which in turn improves their skill and knowledge of the sport,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey, a former college national champion, said the skills her wrestlers learn go far beyond the ring.

“I want my athletes to be able to leave the sport and feel like they gained other skills besides just how to wrestle,” she said. “For example, we stress being on time because in the real world they will have to be on time to appointments and their jobs.”

LBJ’s Elexis Kalar, who raised eyebrows with a run to state as a freshman and returned as a sophomore, echoed Ramsey’s sentiments. She said failure is a constant in the sport, but perseverance pays off.

“You don’t quit just because you’re losing,” Kalar said. “I have lost more than I have won. All in all, it’s a mentality that I will be able to use in the real world. You have to believe you’re going to do it.”