Beyond the Playbook: Ashland’s Burns pins down success wrestling like a girl

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This September has been the month for women’s wrestling. The Wrestle Like a Girl organization launched their ‘She Can Wrestle’ campaign, which runs through Nov. 5 and encourages the growth of the sport across America.

Plus last week the University of Iowa became the first Power Five conference school to add women’s wrestling as an official sport. The move is something Ashland’s head wrestling coach Joe Hasskamp is excited to see.

"With Iowa picking it up, they become the 40th team in the NCAA to have women’s wrestling," Hasskamp said. For years he’s been coaching both boys and girls in the Oredockers wrestling program, including now freshman Madison Burns.

"Women’s wrestling has gotten bigger, but it’s still not big enough for me to be wrestling girls for tournaments," Burns noted.

Wrestling up through Ashland youth then middle school programs, Burns has squared off on the mats almost always against boys, that is if they decide to show up.

"I’ve definitely had people forfeit because of the fact that I’m a girl and they don’t want to lose," Burns shared.

Hasskamp chimed in, "I’ve seen it bother her at the at the middle school level because the thing about Maddie is, Maddie is good. When you’re an eighth grade boy wrestling a girl and you lose, it’s a tough pill to swallow."

Now a freshman in High School Burns doesn’t let that take her down anymore instead, in a reversal, finds motivation from it.

"Definitely don’t give up," Burns advised fellow female wrestlers. "Because I didn’t win any matches my first year until state."

Supported by her younger sister and fellow wrestler Matilda, the Oredocker is prepping for her first season on the high school mats.

"Because of the weight where she’s wrestling at this year, she’s going to be wrestling young men," Hasskamp explained. "It’s going to be hard but those matches are going to get her ready for the state tournament."

Looking forward, the future of women’s wrestling is looking bright.

"I’ve always been one of the only girls around my weight, but every once in a while I’ll see a few that are around my weight, which makes me very excited," Burns expressed. "Hopefully for high school I’ll have more girls to wrestle."