CHOCTAW — Choctaw wrestler Becka Leathers takes exception to the suggestion that she is competing in a man's sport.
“It's rapidly evolving into a female sport as well,” said Leathers, who is one of the top female wrestlers in the country and wrestles on the Yellow Jackets varsity squad at 120 or 126 pounds, depending on where she makes weight.
It's still uncommon to see a girl wrestling on a high school team in Oklahoma, but it is not rare anymore.
“Every tournament we go to now there is usually a female involved,” said Putnam City North coach Mitch Brinlee.
However, Leathers is considered the best female wrestler in the state since Woodward's Joey Miller, now a two-time national champion for Oklahoma City University's women's team; Miller, in 2005, became the first girl to place at the state wrestling tournament.
Leathers has won six national wrestling championships in girls wrestling, including the USA Wrestling cadets (15 and younger) title in Fargo, N.D., last summer.
She also earned All-American in the juniors division (for girls ages 18 and younger) last summer in Fargo, finishing fourth against the older girls and losing for the first time to a female.
“I am pretty sure she will win the thing next time,” OCU women's wrestling coach Archie Randall said. “She will win the junior nationals. She is pretty tough. If she survives this storm she is going through now, when she graduates from high school she will be one of the top recruits in the nation.”
The storm Randall is referring to is Leathers having to wrestle in high school against boys, where she is at a physical disadvantage. Many states have separate girls wrestling teams in high schools, but Oklahoma and most Midwestern states do not.
Randall, though, thinks that is not necessarily a bad thing for female wrestlers.