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Manitowoc girls' wrestling champ seeks more than another title

Emjay Neumann wrestled on boys varsity. She believes her gender kept her from the all-conference team despite qualifying.
Posted at 5:50 PM, May 24, 2024

    Manitowoc Lincoln’s Emjay Neumann sits at the top of girls wrestling in Wisconsin. But she’s fighting for more than just another title.

    • Emjay Neumann spent the year wrestling on boys varsity and won the girls' state championship.
    • Despite qualifying, she says she was not awarded conference honors with the boys.
    • Emjay says the experience has only motivated her for next year.

    (The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

    Growing up with four brothers, Emjay Neumann took to the mat at a young age.

    "Towards the end of the first year her brothers were wrestling she said, 'I want to do that',” her mother, Rhonda Neumann said.

    She started in first grade and soon began competing in state and national tournaments. This year was her biggest accomplishment yet, the state title for girls wresting.

    "I was really happy and proud of my accomplishments,” said Emjay.

    Proud, but seeking another honor.

    Before the girl’s tournament, Emjay spent the season wrestling boys on the boys varsity team. She won six duels, enough to qualify for the all-conference second team.

    But she wasn't named.

    "Disappointing,” says Emjay. “Because, I was working hard all year just to get on there and practicing with the boys just to get better."

    Conference by-laws state a wrestler must have 5 duel wins to make the team. Emjay believes she competed with boys and should be honored with boys.

    Rhonda Neumann says male wrestlers with fewer wins were named.

    "I was shocked,” said Rhonda. “I think her coach was shocked as well. We just thought that she would be on it because she earned it."

    I asked the Fox River Classic Conference why she didn't make it. They responded in a statement acknowledging Emjay's achievements and said, in part:

    "The conference will continue to work with our partners to develop a postseason recognition process as our sports and their competitions evolve."

    Emjay has two seasons left and the Neumann family believes this should be a simple decision.

    "Your success shouldn't be based on your gender,” said Rhonda. “If you're successful you should be rewarded no matter what your gender is."

    "I work as hard as they do and I’m not different than any of them,” Emjay says.

    Emjay told me she hopes to make the team, but being left off has only motivated her to work harder. She says she wants two more state titles and to wrestle in college.