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Girls Wrestling Club

By Caprice Benifield-Sanchez | Posted June 20, 2024

Anshu Cherukumilli, a junior at Montgomery High School, established the Montgomery Girls Wrestling Club on April 24 and is working to make it a year-round program. She aims to provide a dedicated space for female wrestlers of any skill level from kindergarten through 12th grade. The club has rolling admissions until June 26; practices are on Wednesdays at 5:30-6:30 pm at the Montgomery middle school cafeteria.

Back row: Louis Colonna, Sarah Zhang, Heidi Listopad, Jaylen Franicevich, Harmin Chadha, Callie Chudy, and Christopher Manente. Front row: Julissa Jiminez, Ovee Khedikar, Quinn Manente, Audrey Andes, Anshu Cherukumilli, and Diana Andes.

Cherukumilli is a Girl Scout Ambassador with an initiative to address a significant gap in sports opportunities for girls in Montgomery as part of her Girl Scouts Gold Award project. The Girl Scouts Gold Award is the highest award that a Senior or Ambassador Girl Scout can earn. She began wrestling in her freshman year and currently is the only girl on the high school varsity wrestling team.

Diana Andes, a coach of the Montgomery Girls Wrestling Club and Montgomery Youth Wrestling, a co-ed club for kindergarten to 6th grade, said, “Currently, the girls can join the Montgomery team, but have to wrestle with boys because we don’t have a girls-only team like some other schools have.”

Cherukumilli said, “Wrestling boys was my first experience with wrestling... Wrestling girls was actually a bigger step than wrestling guys for me. But I really like it.” “Whenever I go to boys’ tournaments, they tend to move faster and have a lot of power in what they do. But girls have a lot of technique,” she said. “Still, it really helps me when I go to boys’ tournaments, to try out the techniques that I learned. When I go to girls’ tournament, I try to put in more aggression and stuff,” Cherukumilli said.

Although wrestling with boys was a positive experience for developing different skills, there were disparities she had to face as the only girl on her team. According to Cherukumilli’s Girl Scouts Gold Award proposal to the Heart of New Jersey council, her school did not have girls’ uniforms available, “No girls’ uniforms means I am forced to compete in uniforms made for a male body, with low-cut chests and tight hips.”

Another issue was the lack of changing areas. “I am given the trainers’ bathroom to change in during matches, and if it is locked by the time I get there, I am unable to change or check my weight for the day,” she wrote. “These issues in truly making the sport equitable for girls and boys makes girls’ wrestling seem more unattainable than it truly is, and makes girls feel as if they are intruding upon a sport that was not made for them.”


Getting girls on the high school team was a challenge. She wrote in her proposal: “Upon trying to recruit female wrestlers for the team over the past three years, I have met 10 girls who have told me they want to wrestle, but either felt or had parents who felt uncomfortable wrestling boys, or who simply felt unconfident about their abilities and dropped out after enrolling for the Montgomery High School wrestling program (which is still called the MHS Boys Wrestling Team, a title printed onto my participation certificate every year).”

Chris Manente, Cherukumilli’s Gold Award Project adviser and the assistant coach for the club said that they had initial resistance from the high school administrators to establish a student-led club due to a perceived lack of interest among girls in wrestling. “But in this situation, it almost serves as a ... barrier to the club ever being formed because, as Anshu can personally attest, many of her friends who are young women want to wrestle, but not on a co-ed team,” Manente said. “So if you don’t have a team where they can go, you’ll never know if someone actually follows through, right?”

The club is supported by coaches, and by national wrestling team member, Nate Jackson. It also has a collaboration with national organizations such as Wrestle Like a Girl for resources and mentorship. “It’s about access, equity, and inclusion. Young women deserve dedicated spaces in sports to gain confidence, strength, and selfdefense skills,” Manente said.

For more information or to sign up for the Montgomery Girls Wrestling Club, reach out to


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