Jerzie Menke, a senior at Bridgeport High School, has been wrestling since the fourth grade. She began wrestling when her older brother attended practice and she tagged along. “I started playing the games with them at practice and kept showing up,” Menke said.
Jerzie Menke runs sprints with her team as they prepare for Class C-4 districts. The team’s goal was to place in the top two in their district and Menke’s personal goal was to wrestle hard. “I’ve been watching film to prepare,” Menke said.
Jerzie Menke practices with a teammate as they prepares for their district meet.
Bridgeport wrestling coach Zach Malcolm has all of his wrestlers write down their goals for the season. Each wrestler walks past their goals as they enter practice.
Menke tried out for her school’s cheerleading squad on a dare. When Menke was younger fliers advertising Federation wrestling and cheerleading arrived in the mail. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to cheer.’ Well, now, I’ve cheered all four years of high school,” she said.
Payton Alexander tells a secret to Jerzie Menke as they hang out with a group of wrestlers and cheerleaders after a high school basketball game.
The Menke family, from left, Steven, Elizabeth, Jerzie and their mom Marsha pose for a photo after senior night following a basketball game. Jerzie’s younger siblings are both wrestlers as well.
Wrestling has opened doors for Jerzie Menke including the opportunity to wrestle in college. Menke has offers from a handful of collegiate wrestling programs, and intends to sign in late February.
Girls wrestling is not a varsity sport sanctioned by the Nebraska Scholastic Activities Association. Instead the athletes compete in a tournament hosted by the Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association. The championships were held at York High School on Saturday, February 1, 2020.
Bridgeport’s Jerzie Menke won the very first girls state title at 126-pounds. Menke said it took a few minutes to realize what she had just accomplished. Bridgeport wrestling coach Zach Malcolm said the hard work Menke put in culminated with a good day of wrestling, and he was proud to place the medal around her neck. He compared the moment to awarding the Class C 106 pound medal to Casey Benavides at boys state wrestling in 2019.
The Nebraska Scholastic Wrestling Coaches Association 126 pound girls bracket is displayed in Menke’s room.
Jerzie Menke was one of a few girls wrestling at the Class C-4 district wrestling meet in Hershey, Nebraska.
Jerzie Menke wrestles William Costello of Gordon-Rushville High School during the consolation round at the Class C-4 district meet. Costello is a wrestler Menke has faced before with varying degrees of success.
Following her loss to William Costello, Jerzie Menke leaves the mat in tears with her coach Zach Malcolm. Menke had hoped to make it to state, but after two losses her state tournament journey came to an end.
Bridgeport wrestling coach Zach Malcolm demonstrates to Jerzie Menke how she should escape a hold following her loss. While Menke’s senior season came to an end, her wrestling career continues, first with club competition and then on to the collegiate level.