Four young ladies are wrestling for the BGM Bears and Coach Wyatt Baumann this year. Pictured are, from left: Karlee Bellenger, Haley Pierson, Chole Etten and Kyla Andrews. All four wrestlers competed at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials girls’ state wrestling tournament at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Jan. 22-23, with Etten placing sixth in her weight class.
BGM’s Chloe Etten stepped on the mat at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) girls’ state wrestling tournament at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Jan. 22-23, with one goal, to improve on her mark from a year ago.
At 138 pounds, the sophomore, who has been wrestling since she was in the fifth grade, finished last year’s state tournament one match away from placing.
At the 2021 tournament, the third year for the girls’ state tournament, Etten did just that, placing sixth in her weight class.
“She has been hungry to return to show everyone what she can do,” said her coach, Wyatt Baumann. “She puts in extra time in the mornings to guarantee her weight is managed and her conditioning continues to improve.”
This year’s girls’ state wrestling tournament drew 457 wrestlers in 13 weight classes from more than 100 different schools. That is up from 350 a year ago and only 87 in 2019, the tournament’s inaugural year. According to the National Federation of State High School Association, 683 girls are participating in wrestling this year in the state of Iowa.
Etten is one of four female wrestlers who take to the mat for the BGM Bears. The others, Karlee Bellenger, Kyla Andrews and Hailey Pierson, all freshman, who joined Etten at the state tournament but didn’t place in their first trip, are helping build the girls’ wrestling program at the school.
“The strides that all three have made in these last two seasons are astounding,” said coach Baumann of the freshman. “You can see the highs and lows of emotion after each match on their faces, and that shows that they have bought into the idea of always wanting to improve. They come to us (coaches) to ask what they need to do to get better, and there is nothing more you can ask for from one of your athletes than the desire to improve.”
Coach Baumann said Etten has been a great role model for not only the other female wrestlers, but the whole varsity team.
“I enjoy being on a team that feels like a family,” said Etten.
“I like how aggressive it is,” added Bellenger, who started wrestling mid-season of her eighth grade year and competes in the 113-pound class. “I like the family we have as a team.”
“I like the adrenaline I get when I first step on the mat,” said Andrew, who wrestles in the 138-pound class.
And Pierson, who wrestles in the 126-pound class, said she likes the friendships she has formed with her teammates.
“I like winning in a boys’ sport,” she said. “It proves I can do it.”
“I hope that these four will inspire more girls at not only BGM, but other schools around the state to try the sport of wrestling,” noted Coach Baumann. “It has been mind-blowing at how quickly this side of the sport has grown and there is no end in sight.”