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Inspiration on the mat: Female varsity wrestler Bel Snyder sets herself apart with work ethic

Wadena-Deer Creek senior Bel Snyder. Submitted photo1 / 2
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Being the first to do something is usually a daunting task, but that’s not the case for Bel Snyder, Wadena-Deer Creek’s first female varsity wrestler.

While Snyder is new to varsity competition, the senior is no stranger to the wrestling world. She grew up around the mats and is following in footsteps of many family members. Her father wrestled, her brother is on the current team and she has cousins that are also involved with wrestling.

“I have always enjoyed the sport and I wrestled when I was younger,” Snyder said. “I decided to come back to it and it is a really rewarding sport.”

Snyder’s love for the sport is clear during competitions. She likes to lead, helping coach and give advice to her teammates after her matches are completed.

“A lot of times after she is done wrestling, she will be behind me and she has a good feel for the sport. She is very encouraging for the kids,” WDC co-head coach Norm Gallant said. “She is very enthusiastic. I think the kids look up to her because she is working really hard and she set herself apart that way.”

Gallant couldn’t say enough how exceptional of a kid that she is. He said they want nice kids in the program and she has fit in very well.

“More than anything, it’s the work ethic. She is just a great kid,” Gallant said. “She has done everything that we have asked her to do and she has done it to the best of her ability. She has gotten better each and every day.”

Gallant said Snyder has learned that there are no limits to what she can do.

Not only is Snyder in wrestling, she is very active in the community. She is a member of the cross country, mountain bike, track and field and trap shooting teams. She also participates in 4-H, FFA, Business Professionals of America and is in the National Honor Society.

“It’s really cool because you get a different experience with each sport that you are in and with the different people in each sport,” Snyder said. “I get to see my cousins and all my friends from school. There are a lot of different people you meet and get to know.”

One of her favorite moments was sharing her first victory with her brother, Simon, who is also on the team.

“We wrestled Breckenridge and it was a fast one. It came in the first period,” Snyder said. “In the warmups, it felt different and I was strong. I had no reason to not go out there and give 100 percent and it ended up in my favor. Everyone that goes out there is good and they deserve to be there. Most of them have put in many years. It’s really cool to have a chance to come back from that.”

After the match, Snyder told her dad she thought you were supposed to cry less when you win. She said she cried because she was so happy that everything came together. She compared it to a runner’s high, and said it’s something she will remember for a long time.

While Snyder is the first female varsity competitor, the elementary program has seen a growth in female wrestlers. Snyder said she has met a few female wrestlers that compete locally and said they have formed bonds already.

“I think it’s super cool and it’s something I want to see increase,” Snyder said. “We have three girls in our elementary practice room and that makes me excited.”

Snyder said it motivates her that people that are looking up to her.

“Practices are hard and it’s a very demanding sport. You go in there and think about all these people that are looking up to you, not just girls, but anyone who is looking up to you as an athlete in any sport,” Snyder said. “It’s easier to push yourself harder.”

Snyder said her toughest obstacle in wrestling has been learning to retain information. She said when she first stepped out for her first match, everything flew out of her head. She said wrestling is very versatile and you need to know how to react in certain situations. She said she has learned a lot from that aspect of the sport.

Snyder is gearing up for the Section 6A individual tournament. She expects to face one of the top seeds and said she is just going to go out and wrestle as hard as she can and cheer on her teammates.

“We have some kids in the wrestling room that have a good look at state,” Snyder said. “So that’s really exciting. A couple of us and the coaches usually go down to state wrestling and watch. I’m really excited about that. I know there is a girl I just read about in the Star Tribune, who is going and that’s really inspiring to me.”

There won’t be much time off for Snyder after the wrestling season, as she will go right into the spring sports season and soon after that will graduate. She has been accepted at Minnesota State University-Moorhead for Elementary Education and Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences.

“I’m excited to go on into the next chapter in my life and find what I’d like to do,” Snyder said. “A lot of failing and learning processes, which is exciting.”

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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