Hammond, Oakland Mills girls wrestle with being in spotlight History makers just want to compete

January 14, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Sarah Himmelheber said she wasn't looking for attention when she decided to try out for Hammond's wrestling team this year. Yet, on Tuesday night, after Himmelheber pinned Oakland Mills' Stacy Kirschbaum in the second period of an exhibition match, she could not escape the spotlight.

Although Himmelheber scored no points for Hammond, she and Kirschbaum created a historic moment. For the first time in state history, two girls faced each other in a wrestling match.

History wasn't on Himmelheber's mind. Winning was.

"I just wanted to wrestle because it's a great sport," said Himmelheber, a 14-year-old freshman. "It was kind of a joke at first, but I'm not doing it for the attention. I'm not doing it to be the only girl at Hammond who wrestles. By the time I'm a senior, I think I can be a lot better at it."

Himmelheber (119 pounds) and Kirschbaum (103) -- another freshman -- individually are not breaking new ground in the county. Wilde Lake's Maria Romano is in the middle of her second season on the Wildecats' varsity, and Romano actually competes in matches. And Nicole Scott became the first female wrestler in the state during the mid-1980s at Oakland Mills.

"Howard County seems to be leading the way," said Oakland Mills coach Steve Carnahan, who coached Scott and welcomed Kirschbaum into the Scorpions' program this year. "It was a little awkward at first, but after that she was just another wrestler. But I'm somewhat of a doubting Thomas in terms of the level of success I think she will enjoy."

Hammond coach Bill Smith shares Carnahan's mixed feelings.

"She [Himmelheber] works as hard as anyone you're going to find," said Smith, who has a no-cut policy in his program. "She came to all of the preseason meetings, and she does everything I ask her to do in practice with no complaints. I wish I had guys with as much desire. I've never had a problem with her, but I have a problem with it [females wrestling].

"The attitude in the [wrestling] room is one I perceive as being male-oriented," Smith added. "It's a tough sport. You have to be willing to rip someone's face off, and I don't know if I can expect that from a girl. Will she ever get into the lineup? I don't think so. There's no way physically that she can compete [with the boys]. That's the bottom line."

When asked if the Himmelheber-Kirschbaum match offered a possible glimpse into a future that would include all-girls high school wrestling, Smith and Carnahan shook their heads.

"I don't think there would be enough interest," Carnahan said.

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