By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
Marina Goocher couldn’t believe it.
Goocher, a former standout at Riverview Community High School, sought to continue her wrestling career at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She won more than 100 matches in high school against male competitors and had hoped to continue wrestling co-ed in college.
But Goocher and men’s wrestling coach Grant MacKenzie discovered co-ed wrestling wasn’t permitted at the collegiate level.
“When I first heard that co-ed wrestling wasn’t allowed I didn’t believe it,” Goocher told the Journal via email. “I thought that there just had never been a girl interested in wrestling boys at the collegiate level and that this would now be changing — (with) this being the 20th century and all, they would not discriminate.
“I was allowed to wrestle in high school against the boys and there were a few other girls from other schools. Would NCWA (National Collegiate Wrestling Association) really deny all of us at the college level?”
The creation of the women’s club wrestling team quickly followed, and was officially announced in late November. According to MacKenzie, UM-Dearborn is the first-ever and only National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Association club in Michigan.
Goocher, the lone wrestler on the team’s roster, has been lauded by MacKenzie as a pioneer in the sport.
“Marina is a leader. She is a driven-athlete who understands she is a pioneer in women’s collegiate wrestling in Michigan,” MacKenzie said. Marina opened a door at Michigan-Dearborn and we hope other women follow her.”
Goocher will wrestle at 123 pounds. She currently trains with the men’s team, and according to MacKenzie, is “respected by her peers.”
MacKenzie said Goocher might have a match Feb. 13 in Toledo. He expects her to compete in the NCWAA National Championships in March.
“Marina has an excellent chance of winning a national title in the 123-pound class,” MacKenzie said.
Goocher is enthusiastic to be a pioneer for women’s wrestling, but with UM-Dearborn being the lone college in Michigan to have a NCWWA team, she’s concerned about the lack of competitors.
“With this, how many girls will I be able to wrestle? I am not looking for a win by default — I want to earn my record,” Goocher said. “Since there is a lack of female wrestlers in the area, I would like to compete with the males throughout the season to prepare for nationals.”
Wrestling against males isn’t an issue for Goocher. She has wrestled males since she was 5-years-old, and back in January, she notched her 100th high school win, all coming against males.
“It is what I know. They are strong and the level of competition is high which helps me improve as a wrestler,” Goocher said. “My 100 varsity wins against the boys proves that I am capable of contending with the boys. Achieving 100 varsity wins is an amazing accomplishment whether you are a boy or girl, but almost unheard of being a girl.”