Maple Grove Athlete a Trailblazer in Women’s Wrestling
Maple Grove’s Emily Shilson is an ex-high school wrestling star now making her mark on the college level. Shilson is a trailblazer on a groundbreaking Augsburg team that is fielding a female wrestling team for the first time ever.
“It’s going to help grow women’s wrestling in Minnesota,” Shilson said. “So that’s really cool.”
The Augies upstart program is the only female collegiate wrestling team in Minnesota.
“It’s not super well-known,” Shilson said. “When people hear that Augsburg has a women’s wrestling program they don’t even know women’s wrestling exists. It will definitely help grow women’s wrestling in Minnesota.”
Growing up in Maple Grove, Shilson was captivated early on the by the male-dominated sport of wrestling.
“I would always go to tournaments with my brother,” Shilson said. “I didn’t like sitting on the side watching so I asked my dad if I could wrestle. He said as long as I gave 100 percent I could.”
With her father’s approval, Shilson soon took up grappling – putting in countless hours perfecting her technique. Eventually she became a prep star.
“She was the No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school, regardless of weight,” said Augsburg coach Max Mejia. “So the entire country was after that, trying to secure her because she’s the best.”
Emily Shilson and her teammates are putting the Augies on the mat map. They are fueled by Augsburg’s men’s team, which has been dominant through the decades.
“It’s really cool,” Shilson said. “We’re looking to continue the men’s tradition on the women’s side of things. They have 13 national titles.”
In high school, Shilson wrestled against boys and qualified for state three times. Her resume includes a gold medal at the Youth Olympics and she recently qualified for the Olympic trials that take place at Penn State in April.
“That’s really hard to do,” Mejia said.
Shilson,who competes in the 109-pound class, is laser-focused and goal-oriented. Her sights are set on the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
“I’ve had this goal since I was 5 years old that I wanted to make the 2020 Olympic team,” Shilson said, “and I wanted to win the 2020 Olympics.”
According to Mejia, Shilson is a team leader with high character, talent and smarts.
“She has the same intensity in the classroom,” Mejia said. “Outstanding student.”
Wrestling requires discipline, resolve toughness and passion. Shilson checks all those boxes.
“You got someone who is trying to pull your head down to the mat,” Mejia said. “You got someone who is trying to roughhouse you a little bit. Can you stay composed, can you take what’s thrown at you, can you match their intensity? Emily can do all those things.”