By Ava Curran, Mary Fornelli, and Amanda Melvin
Sydney Perry is a female wrestler at Batavia High School and has been bestowed multiple awards, including being named Wrestling Athlete of the Week by USA wrestling. She also finished 25-0 in her sophomore season and won the first IHSA women’s wrestling championship. She was selected for the World Team trials but unfortunately narrowly missed being selected, taking second.
“After winning state, I felt very accomplished. It was cool to be the first girl in Illinois to win a girl’s state title and I know that accomplishment will stick with me forever,” Perry said.
Although she placed second in the World Team Trials, Perry will be going to Argentina this June to represent the U.S. Some more of her bigger accomplishments include being a Fargo finalist and winning folkstyle nations.
“She’s been a leader, she’s a leader in the room, she’s a leader for girl’s wrestling,” said Ryan Farwell, a graduate assistant at the University of Wisconsin for 2 years and assistant coach at Batavia for 9 years. “Last year she was the first IHSA state champ, so she’s a face for women’s wrestling right now. Women’s wrestling will really help grow the sport in wrestling in general, so I really like how she’s been in that front and she’s taken that light and she’s moving the sport of wrestling forward.”
Not only does Perry focus on herself and her own matches at competitions, but she also puts in an effort to support and encourage her teammates. Perry sets her own goals to accomplish but also makes her teammates achieve their goals, as well.
“During practice and especially during competitions Sydney is very supportive of the girls on the team,” said Karinna Morfin. “She makes sure every girl is focused and makes sure the girls have at least one goal to strive for during the competition. She works with all the girls after each match to go over each match and look for what to improve on for the next one.”
Perry has made some big accomplishments but is always looking to get better and improve. Perry comes into practice with the mindset of someone looking to improve and is always asking questions in order to become the best wrestler she can be.
“I think she’s a real student of the sport,” Farwell said. “She asks tons of questions. She’s always looking to get better. She will come into the room with an idea of what she wants to get done and improve on. She’s always going to try and come in and just try and become a better wrestler.”
“She’s very focused. This is very important for her, she’s been doing it most of her life and she’s put into the mindset she needs to win because she’s very competitive and very into it,” said Tyler Baxter, boys wrestler.
Perry began wrestling in Batavia in a fourth-grade club and is a “pretty serious wrestler from a pretty serious wrestling family,” said girls’ wrestling coach Scott Bayer. Her family pushes her to be the best. Perry has won nearly all of her wrestling matches.
“She’s a competitor. She’s very focused and wants to become one of the best in the nation in wrestling,” Farwell said.
Perry went into the Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa as the No. 7 grappler in the country at 138 pounds. This led to her being chosen as the USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week on Nov. 3, 2021. Not only has Perry brought home many wins and been named “the most accomplished wrestler we have” by Bayer, she has also become a role model for other wrestlers. She serves as an inspiration to the whole team, especially the female wrestlers.
“I think it comes down to representation. So the idea that girls will do this, and they will, they need to see someone who does it well and I think a lot of girls, while they may not come out and be as successful as Sydney is, the idea is that it’s possible and the idea is that they can succeed on their own terms because they see Sydney succeeding,” Bayer said .
Perry’s teammate contends that Perry motivates other wrestlers. “I think the impact that Sydney had on the girls was that it showed the girls that success can come from hard work,” said Morfin. “Even if it’s in a sport that is predominantly men, many girls on the team look up to her and work hard to get on the podium at a competition as she does regularly.”