By JEREMY HINES
Twin sisters Cailin and Catie Campbell wanted to follow in their brother’s footsteps and take up wrestling. Their dad, Brian, wasn’t too keen on the idea.
Brian had been around the sport for a long time. He even coached wrestling for several years. But the idea of his daughters taking up the sport was not one he wanted to consider.
So, Cailin and Catie did what any young girl does when their dad says no. They went to their mom.
“At first I think my dad just wanted to be done with coaching and wanted his daughters to do more girly things,” Catie said. “We were like, oh no, we’re wrestling. Mom convinced him to let us.”
Cailin is glad her mom stepped up.
“I just don’t think dad wanted us to get hurt,” Cailin said. “He didn’t know if we would be able to keep up with the guys. But mom said to let us do the sports we want to do and told him he might be surprised how it turns out.
It has turned out quite well.
The Campbell sisters are both two-time Indiana High School Girls Wrestling state champions. They both have claimed varsity roster spots on the North Montgomery high school team. In fact, not only are they varsity wrestlers, they are the ones leading much of the drills in practices.
“They are both just very determined,” first-year North Montgomery coach Mike Boesch said. “They are great workers. They are very coachable. Anything I bring up, they try. It’s great to have people like them on a team. They are great leaders. They lead us in warmups and before the matches. They have made my job so much easier.”
In a slight twist of irony, Brian Campbell was Boesch’s first wrestling coach when he started in the sport back in fourth grade at Clinton Prairie.
“It’s cool that now I get to coach his kids for their senior year,” Boesch said.
Catie was the first sister to win a state title. In 2019 she earned the top spot in the 126-pound class. Cailin finished second at 120 pounds.
In 2020 it was Cailin’s turn to win a title. She won the 120 -pound class. Catie finished second at 132.
Last year the twins finally went home with a title at the same time. Cailin again won the 120-pound class and Catie took top honors at 126 pounds.
“State last year was my favorite wrestling memory so far,” Catie said. “Not only did I win, but so did my sister and several of my friends.”
The two have made a lot of friends through the sport and really love going to the girls tournaments. They see the sport growing and they have a lot of younger girls asking them questions about wrestling and showing interest in getting involved.
“I see a huge difference in girls wrestling now even to where it was my freshman year,” Cailin said. “My freshman year at girls regional I only had to wrestle twice. Now the classes are stacked, and it’s grown three to four times since then. There are so many more girls that are trying out for wrestling, and it makes me really happy.
“I think the stereotypes are going away and opportunities are being presented in the state of Indiana. It’s way more welcoming than it was. More girls are willing to give it a try now.”
The sisters have the same goal for this season. They both want to go out on top in the girl state meet and they both want to get better in the sport.
“My main goal is to just get to my full potential and be the best I can,” Catie said. “The accomplishments aren’t as important as getting a really good experience out of it.”
The journey has certainly not been easy for either girl. Their dad’s fears about the sport had merit in their case. Catie broke a vertebra in her back last season and had to take time off to recover. Cailin tore three ligaments in her shoulder and has developed arthritis in the same shoulder and must wear a brace. Still, their love for the sport outweighs the toll it has taken on their bodies.
“Wrestling makes people really disciplined,” Catie said. “It’s a mental sport and it’s very rewarding once you put the work into it.”
Although the two have similar styles on the mat, they have different moves they prefer.
“We have different specialties,” Cailin said. “Catie is really good at the fireman’s carry. She hits it just about whenever she wants to. My bread and butter is a slide-by or an elbow pass to a low single.”
Coach Boesch has four girls on his team this year at North Montgomery. Three will likely fill spots on the varsity roster. He also has some girls-only meets planned for the season.
“They are really excited about the meet at Lebanon this weekend,” Boesch said of his female wrestlers. “That gives them their first look at some of the other girls around the state this season. I’m really hoping I can help them win their third titles this year. I don’t know how much I can teach them that they don’t already know.”
The sisters are both considering wrestling after high school, but they are uncertain where they will attend college at this point.
“Outside of wrestling they are just great kids,” Boesch said. “They are doing everything they need to in school and they are just all-around great people.”