Beyond the Game: Local college team 'takes down' stereotypes

Lyon College's women's wrestling program (KATV Photo)

The sport is slowly gaining momentum. So too are those who partake in it: female wrestlers.

"We're in the oldest and greatest sport, man's oldest and greatest sport, but yet women are doing it," said Lyon Wrestling Coach Tom Erikson. "How cool is that?

"To use a wrestling term, we're taking down stereotypes and pinning them with our women's team here."

There are only a handful of universities around the country that field a women's wrestling team. In fact, only one Division One school, Eastern Michigan, offers the sport. Tiny Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, is the only school in the state to offer it.

Lyon founded the program three years ago, the same time the school started a men's wrestling program. The two teams compete against their own sex in matches, though they do sometimes compete against each other in practice.

"They're tough," said senior wrestler Troy Mercer. "Some of these girls even have cauliflower ear."

Coach Tom Erikson's prized recruit is Destiny Nunez, a Beebe native who two years ago, became the first girl in the state to win a wrestling title.

"They say, oh you don't look like a wrestler," Nunez said. "You don't look like the wrestling type. I'm like, I don't know what that looks like!"

Destiny's dominance in high school shocked the crowd. Needless to say, she's now proud to be part of a team that continues to break barriers.

"We're making groundbreaking movements," said junior wrestler Alyssa Batiste. "We can do as much as the guys can do, if not better."

"Not to be nostalgic but you look back in the '70's, those women that burned their bras, they're doing the same thing, only with a singlet on," Erikson said.

"They're saying forget that. We can do this too. We're just as good as the men and this is the perfect example of it."

"I hope women's wrestling gives girls or females the empowerment they need to move on and conquer anything," said Batiste.

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