FRANKFORT - When Jaime Smith first wrestled as a young girl, there were only 112 females wrestling nationwide. Participation has skyrocketed since with 630 Michigan girls wrestling on a single day, the 2023 Girls Individual Regional.
Smith, a national girls wrestling representative for Michigan and co-head coach for Frankfort, worked for the opportunities that are made possible today.
“To watch girls and be a part of women’s wrestling is phenomenal,” said Smith. “It’s something I dreamed of but wasn’t a possibility.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association has sanctioned girls wrestling for two years. This has allowed girls to compete all the way to the state final in a fifth division.
Frankfort freshman wrestler Bella Crompton and Benzie Central junior wrestler Cambrie Lawrence will be taking to Ford Field for state this year.
Crompton’s interest in wrestling sparked at a young age while watching her brothers wrestle during Saturday meets. Lawrence’s interest in wrestling also came about early on, but she didn’t act on it until attending Benzie Central High School.
“I love watching this sport evolve because I wanted to wrestle ever since I was a little girl and I used to not be able to,” said Lawrence. “Once I wrestled girls for the first time I was just dead set on [wrestling].”
Both feel empowered for contributing to the rise of female wrestlers.
“We are really like the pioneers of it all,” said Crompton.
“I feel really accomplished because a lot of people would be like ‘it is a guy’s sport she can’t do that’ and I did it,” said Lawrence.
Along the way, Smith has been on their side and supporting these girls and many more who are starting their wrestling journey.
“Wrestling is a sport that provides confidence, grit, determination, sacrifice all of these things that really helped me become the woman I am right now,” said Smith. “I think of a lot of things I accomplished in my life and I really credit a lot of those foundational skills to wrestling.”