Wrestling is a sport of minutia: A good grappler can exploit the tiniest creases in an opponent's technique, he can find an advantage in the smallest sliver of an opponent's weakness.
But for one DeKalb wrestler, amidst all such minutia, one important biological distinction stands out before even taking the mat: This wrestler is, by nature, not as big or as strong as opponents because this wrestler, by nature, has two Y chromosomes.
But for what she lacks in innate size and strength, DeKalb senior Susie Fozo more than makes up for in toughness and determination. For it didn't take long for Fozo, a five-time ISWA Girls state champion who will wrestle at Eastern Michigan University next year, to earn the respect of her male teammates when she came on to the Baron wrestling team as a freshman four years ago.
"Susie's been the fourth or fifth female through our program, and the guys know that if you want to wrestle her, go ahead, and if you don't want to, then she doesn't have a drill partner," says DeKalb head coach Jason Hunter, in his 13th year at the helm in Waterloo. "But for some reason she's become an exception to the rule where she came in and proved to the guys that she knew what she was doing, she understood wrestling and the guys treat her like one of the guys."
Fozo's understanding of the sport is most clearly seen in her technique, which Hunter says is the most polished aspect of her grappling.
"She's always in good position, and she is never out of position," Hunter says. "The guys in the room get frustrated because they just can't turn her."
The senior's DeKalb career came to a close this past Saturday during the sectional meet at Westview High, where she was pinned in the second round to finish 6-21 on the season. But the four-year letter-winner's record this winter is deceiving, as the team-first Fozo wrestled at a higher weight class than normal all season long in order crack a tough Baron lineup that includes regional qualifiers at 113, 120, 126 and 145 pounds.
"She really truly is a 113-pounder, so she actually had to gain some weight to wrestle 132," Hunter explains. "This year, she couldn't make that 106 weight, and our 113, 120 and 126 are pretty solid. So we had an open spot at 132, and she beat out a freshman to get it."
With the discrepancy in size between her and her opponents—case-in-point, Fozo weighed in at 123 for her 132-pound match at sectionals—the senior, who finished with 15 wins over the course of her varsity career and was the first girl to ever place in the Northeast Hoosier Conference tournament, gave up more falls than usual this winter.
But wrestling up two weight classes forced the senior to focus more on her positioning out on the mat—a focus that will no doubt be paid in spades when Fozo begins her collegiate career with the Eagles this fall.
"That's what we always talked about: You've got to stay in good position, number one, because you're not going to outmuscle anyone," Hunter says. "When you're giving up 10, 11 pounds, that's a lot—plus the muscle on top of that. So for her to accomplish what she has over the course of the last four years and just this season... It takes a different breed of a female to do what she does."
Also preparing her for the next level is all the time Fozo's spent wrestling against the opposite sex, as the senior is excited to finally wrestle fellow girls next year at Eastern Michigan and see the return on her investment for having to compete against guys throughout the entirety of her seven-year wrestling career.
"Wrestling against the guys has really prepared me for wrestling with the girls, because it's a different level against the guys," says Susie Fozo, who notes her flexibility is one aspect of her game she's relied on heavily during her time at DeKalb. "They practice harder, they're more intense and they're just stronger without even trying, so when I wrestle against girls I'll work just as hard but it's more of a fair match."
Hunter echoes the senior's sentiments, as Fozo (who went 3-0 wrestling at the JV level in the 113 weight class this season) is more than prepared to shine in the next stage in her wrestling career thanks to the sort of baptism-by-fire she endured over the course of her Baron career.
"Anytime a female gets an opportunity to wrestle a guy of good caliber, that's just going to better her," Hunter says. "So the opportunity that she's had the last four years to be in a wrestling room full of guys is great; the competition is definitely going to prepare her for the next level."
For more on Susie Fozo and other wrestling story lines from around northern Indiana, listen to this week's upcoming Prep Report podcast.
Article from The Fan Varsity Sports Network