By Jon Dinan
January 8 Elizabeth Koenig and Thalia Vargas are rookie wrestlers on Monticello High School’s varsity wrestling team.
The best friends decided to dive into a sport that they have never played and is predominantly boys. But the two have had a fair amount of exposure to wrestling throughout their lives. The tenth-graders grew up with wrestling in their families. Elizabeth’s twin brother Nick began wrestling for Monticello’s JV team before moving up to varsity this year. Elizabeth decided to follow her brother’s lead and go out for the team.
Vargas also happens to hail from a wrestling-oriented family. Her brother Victor Vargas wrestled for Monticello’s varsity squad from 2008 to 2012. He is now attending RIT. “I have been watching the sport for more than five years.” Vargas said.
After some convincing Vargas gave in, ultimately because she thought it would be fun to share the new experience with her close friend.
“I think it’s important as a girl to do things to prove you can fend for yourself,” Koenig said. “More girls should go out for wrestling so we can end the false notion that girls are all unathletic weaklings.”
Koenig and Vargas joined Selena Melendez as the only girls on the team. Melendez is in her second year on the varsity team.
Wrestling is not the only activity Vargas and Koenig do together. They’re both long-time dancers who feel that their dancing experience has aided them in wrestling.
“Dance helps with balance and flexibility which is key to having success in wrestling,” said Koenig. Both girls agree that their flexibilty has proven to be their greatest wrestling strength thus far as they usually have to try and outmaneuver bigger and stronger opponents.
Vargas and Koenig have struggled a bit so far wrestling against both boys and girls. Koenig has only one contested victory on the season and Vargas is still winless.
But that has not diminished her enthusiasm for the sport.
“We don’t just roll over. We stand our ground, and we fight,” said Vargas.
“I hope to improve and take it as far as possible.” Koenig said. “Hopefully if I get good enough I can wrestle in college someday.”