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.
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.
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