Female N.J. Wrestler Proving She Can Hang With Boys

Newton's Ashley Iliff Hears The Grumbling, But Wins Anyway

NEWTON, N.J. (CBS 2) — If you thought wrestling is just for the guys, think again.

More and more girls are hitting the mat, racking up wins against the guys and sparking some controversy along the way.

CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis spoke to one young woman from New Jersey who’s beating the boys.

She’s got long blond hair, is completely comfortable in an athletic one-piece, and is all muscle.

“I work really hard, and I’ve been lifting a lot of weights,” Ashley Iliff said.

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Ashley, 17, is the only girl on her Newton High School varsity wrestling team. She’s been taking the male wrestlers to the mat and winning tournaments statewide.

“She really is just another one of the guys to us,” teammate Kevin Kitchel said. “She’s just as tough as anybody else in the room.”

“Women have to work harder to build up strength, but it’s just a matter of your work ethic,” Ashley said.

Still, despite many girls’ success on the mat, there’s still controversy.

In Iowa, female wrestler Cassy Herkleman gained national attention after her male opponent refused to face her because she’s a girl, giving her a win by forfeit. It’s happened to Ashley, too.

“I just consider it a win for me either way, so I just keep my head high,” she said. “It just keeps me more pumped for when I have to wrestle other people.”

Ashley is no fluke, either. Not only is she wrestling competitively, but she has a 16-12 record.

“I always get nervous – I’m probably more nervous than she is – but I’m kind of used to it at this point,” Ashley’s dad, Andy Iliff, said.

Andy Iliff got his daughter into wrestling, as he’s a coach himself. Ashley’s mom, Theresa, is her biggest cheerleader – even after several injuries.

“She’s had to have major knee surgery because of wrestling. She’s had her collarbone broken with wrestling. She’s had injections in her ribs because of injuries,” Theresa Iliff said.

Despite the injuries, Ashley said she still loves the sport.

“I really want to wrestle in college,” she said.

Even there, Ashley just hopes to be one of the guys.

Think girls belong wrestling on the mat with boys? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Teddy Sibblies

    Hey Bob in all realia Wrestling is one of those sports like bowling where its all about skill. You against one other person. Every sport you just named are team sports, Wrestling is one of the only one on one sports left. And what are your thoughts on male gymnists, balette dances, and male cheerleaders. The male population is doing the same thing. Its all about how tough are you and when will you back down. The reason Ashley can wrestler is because she hangs with everyone (i would know we practices and goofed off on the same team).

  • Sara

    Hi Rosemary,
    I’m a college senior and I am interested in writing a paper on females playing with the boys in what are still considered “male sports”. I am looking to find a few subjects to interview for my paper. Is there anyway I could get Savannah’s information? If possible please send to skj231@nyu.edu.


  • Rosemary Lukas

    There is also a beautiful young lady named Savannah that wrestles for Lakeland schools in Wanaque, NJ. She has actually had some young boys vow to forfeit if they had to wrestle her. She is exceptional. You may want to investigate this story,also. Her mom, who is raising three children on her own, goes to every match, and has been doing so since Savannah was 5.
    Great follow up on your last report..

  • Bob Fowler

    It has become so ‘normal’ to allow girls to compete in ‘boys’ competition, why is it not ok for boys to join the girl’s volleyball team? girl’s basketball team?…, Girls can join Boy Scouts?

    I have daughters of my own. I would be more than miffed if one of them told me they wanted to try-out/join the boy’s team. Maybe that’s because my daughters are daughters, and not my alternative son?

    • Trish

      Well said, thank you.

  • J.P.

    I think it’s perfectly fine for girls to wrestle on the same mat as boys. I wrestled in high school and in my 4 years I had to wrestle a girl multiple times. They know the risk that come along with this rough competitive sport, so if they can handle it by all means let them wrestle. The way I see it is it doesn’t matter who’s out on the mat with me, I’m just gonna go out there wrestle hard and hold nothing back

    • Ashleys Mom

      Well said…..thank you….and Ashley expects nothing less from her boy competitors…..we couldn’t be any prouder if she was up on a stage in a dance tutu or on a wrestling mat…..she is not a boy or girl in our eyes she is our child and gift from God…..and we will always support her choices even if they don’t fit into the norms of society….her coach calls her princess and she truely is one beautiful little girl both inside and out…..

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