Fond du Lac native becomes first girl’s state wrestler in school history

Reghan Ziegler learned wrestling from scratch
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 5:30 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Fifteen-year-old sophomore Reghan Ziegler loves to read, plays the violin, loves art, and participates in four sports: softball, volleyball, gymnastics, and rowing.

It wasn’t until she saw Head Coach Jayden Laurent putting up flyers looking for girls interested in joining a wrestling team that she decided to participate in a fifth sport.

“I went to a sports store and we got shoes, and you know, once you get the shoes, you can’t really go back,” Ziegler said, “So I’ve been doing it ever since.

According to Fond du Lac High School’s Athletic Director Arik Gunderson, this is the first year the high school has offered a girls’ wrestling team. Last academic year, the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association hosted a girls’ wrestling state championship in Lacrosse. This year they decided to combine it during the same weekend as the boy’s state wrestling championships.

Gunderson wanted to give the girls at Fond du Lac High School the opportunity to participate in wrestling and give them their own program rather than just joining the boy’s team. That’s when Gunderson hired Laurent as the team’s head coach.

Laurent is a former National Champion in wrestling during her college days at Lakeland University. When Ziegler first started wrestling, she had to learn from the very beginning and learn all of the fundamentals.

“She is very supportive of everything,” Ziegler said. “She tells me, like, if I do something wrong, she’s gonna tell me and she’s gonna be straightforward about it. And then we figure out a way to work through it and what I can do better next time.”

With a 5-3 record this season, Ziegler qualified for the state championship in Madison, where she competed against other girls in the 235 weight class. While Ziegler said it was overwhelming with a large crowd in the arena, she said everything melted away once she started wrestling.

“At first, I wasn’t really sure I was going to be a huge contender because I’d only been wrestling for a couple of months but going into this and seeing how I’ve like ran with the big dogs at this point like I’ve fought for like during my matches and it’s just been a really cool experience,” Ziegler said.

Ziegler lost both matches she competed in, but is eager to come back stronger and learn from her mistakes. She also appreciates all the support she gets from her family.

“I can say my mom definitely has become a wrestling mom,” Ziegler said. “She screamed for me during every match. And it’s like everyone in my family has been really encouraging. My sister wants to try it out. And I think that she just likes watching me wrestle and go at it with the other girls and I think my little brother just like watching me pummel people or get pummeled. My dad likes to watch too and he also likes to see me get beat up because, you know, I’m his oldest child, so it’s kind of funny. And he just likes to watch and come and support me as well.”

She said when it comes to competing against boys, she said she competes in the same way as if she were to wrestle a girl.

“So when I wrestle them, it’s not so much that I’m a girl and they’re a guy it’s just that we’re both competitors,” Ziegler said. And the kind of, well for me at least, it melts away the fact that they’re guys so I wrestle them like they are a girl. And I’m assuming it’s the opposite way as well that they wrestle me like I’m a guy. So it doesn’t really matter in the moment and it’s just two people trying to beat each other.”

Ziegler said if there is any young girl out there who wants to try out for the wrestling team and is too afraid to, you should just go for it.

“I feel like if you want to do something, you shouldn’t be stopped just because you’re not what people would typically expect in that sport,” Ziegler said. “Like if you want to go out and you want to be a girl and you want to wrestle, there’s only guys then just wrestle your hardest and show that you belong to be there and that it doesn’t matter who you are just what you can do.”