The competitive gap between male and female wrestling is quickly closing thanks in part to 13-year-old Eldon native Madalyn Robison.
Wrestling is a sport that’s defined by masculinity. It conjures up images of testosterone-driven behemoths colliding in mortal combat. Essentially, wrestling has long been considered a sport fit for only males.
However, thanks to Title IX — a federal law passed in1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions — women have been trickling into this male-dominated sport. The competitive gap between male and female wrestling is quickly closing thanks in part to 13-year-old Eldon native Madalyn Robison.
Madalyn is coming off of an unprecedented season as a female wrestler. On March 30, she traveled to St. Louis to participate in the co-ed, 12 and under Missouri USA State Wrestling Tournament. She returned home as a state champion, marking the first time that a female had ever won the 12 and under state title in the history of Missouri wrestling.
At the tournament, she dominated her competition. In the first round of the State Championship match, Madalyn pinned her male opponent in six seconds. This set a new Missouri state record for the fastest pin fall in a wrestling match.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Madalyn accomplished these feats as a first year wrestler.
Madalyn’s journey to a state championship title started just six months earlier. She became a star offensive lineman — a position generally reserved for men - on the Eldon Junior High football team, and was searching for another sport once the season ended.
“I had gotten bored of basketball,” Madalyn explained. “So I was looking to try something new. I liked wrestling because it’s just you out there. You can’t blame anybody else.”
Her quest for a new sport ended quickly as Madalyn’s football teammates coaxed her into joining the Eldon Takedown Wrestling Team.
“The Eldon Takedown Team is for the kids that are really serious about wrestling,” team coach Bret Marshall said. “Maddie went from losing matches, to losing by a few points, and then she hit this enormous win streak where she didn’t lose for months. She also won every prestigious tournament along the way.”
Madalyn’s quick rise to success can be attributed to her hard work and determination. During the season, she continually pushed herself harder in practice and it paid off. She lost more than 40 pounds throughout the course of the season.
“Most kids won’t continue if they don’t have immediate success,” Marshall explained. “Maddie came and got her butt kicked and started to work harder. Eventually, she just stopped losing. She needed tougher competition after a while.”
Madalyn quickly outpaced her teammates and looked for older and bigger competition. She would wrestle and consistently win against opponents that outweighed her by 40-60 pounds. It didn’t matter whether her opponents were male or female, Madalyn made her presence felt.
Her most recent loss came to a 17-year-old senior in high school. Madalyn lost after releasing her foe from a headlock out of fear of hurting the senior. Then, her opponent quickly pounced on her back and won.
Marshall also coaches the junior high football team and was well aware of Madalyn’s athletic prowess. He attributed the young wrestling phenom’s fast rise to success not to her athleticism, but to how hard she works.
“The reason why she was able to be successful so fast is because of how hard she works, which other kids just don’t have. A kid like that doesn’t come around very often,” said Marshall.
But Madalyn’s road to glory doesn’t end after this season. She’s preparing herself for next season by setting lofty, yet attainable goals.
“I’m going to be in the 14 and under division now,” Madalyn said. “So I’m going to try to work as hard as I can to win the State Championship again next year, against new competition.”
Madalyn’s future in wrestling looks bright, but she unknowingly leads a strong charge for women’s wrestling.
“The number of girls who wrestle has been increasing each year,” said Marshall. “Ten years ago, there were probably between 500 to 1,000 girl wrestlers in the whole nation. Now, there are probably 500 girls wrestling in Missouri, and Madalyn’s right at the front end of this wave.”
Marshall praised the wrestling community for how open and receptive it has been to women joining wrestling. Jason Robison, Madalyn’s father, further explained that parents and wrestlers from all over congratulate and cheer on his daughter.
“They all understand how big of a deal this is,” said Robison.
Madalyn’s future seems bright with potential. She plans to continue with her career in wrestling, and has even set her sights on the Olympics. Marshall wholeheartedly endorses Madalyn’s Olympic dreams.
“She’s on pace to be the next Eldon Olympian,” said Marshall, glowingly of Madalyn.
Outside of athletics, Madalyn’s just like any other teenage girl. She enjoys watching scary movies, comedies, and enjoys hanging out with her friends. She’s also a committed student. She was recently inducted into National Junior Honor Society.
At such a young age, Madalyn has already turned into a role model. She’s living proof that anyone can and should wrestle. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, either can be equally successful.
“The way I see it is if a kid refuses to wrestle a girl,” Marshall said, “then you’ve lost to her anyway. You’re just admitting defeat. Maddie has proven that girls are just as good. Girls can do whatever boys can do.”