Emily Shilson has been wrestling against boys, and usually winning, for about a decade. But that’s over, now that she has completed her senior season in high school.
Shilson looks ahead to wrestling against women at one of the 33 colleges that offer the sport. She hasn’t picked one yet. She will continue to pursue her ultimate goal — the Olympics. Already, she is a 2018 Cadet World Champion and 2017 silver medalist, and a 2018 Youth Olympic Games Champion.
Shilson wrestled for Centennial for four seasons and Mounds View her senior year, all at 106 pounds. She qualified for the state tournament the last three years, as a section runner-up and two-time section champion.
She was never able to win a match at state, in three individual tournaments and two team tournaments, but posted a 139-64 career record, including 88-20 the last three.
The Shilsons are a wrestling family. She followed her brother Tyler (who placed second and fourth in state tournaments for Centennial) and father Chad in wrestling, with Chad handling much of her coaching.
Shilson, who carries a 4.03 grade-point-average, was recently named Ms. Minnesota Wrestling by The Guillotine. She won her division at the Minnesota Girls High School Wrestling Tournament all six years.
Bruce Strand of Press Publications recently contacted Shilson for a question-and-answer session.
Was it a major goal to get at least one state tournament win, a big disappointment to not get one?
My goal was always to win the high school state tournament. It was the media’s goal for me to win one match. I train with the mindset to win every match.
When a boy at state beats you, is it because he’s stronger and/or quicker?
Boys in high school are building muscle at an extremely fast rate which makes it next to impossible for a girl to keep up with them from a strength perspective. Because of that, when it’s match time against a boy, I know that I’m going to rely on my technique more so than anything else. I still feel I’m pretty strong and have a great strength program thanks to Body Rejuvenation.
What was the reason for transferring to Mounds View this year?
I transferred to Mounds View because it was the best place for me to spend my senior year. My teammates, coaches and fans were so supportive of me all year long. I couldn’t be happier.
Were you proud to see that Centennial had four girls on the squad this year, two of them new? A couple of them mentioned you as inspiration.
Yes, I’m always excited to see more girls coming out for the sport. I hope they continue to build on what they have going over there. The best way to grow the sport is to get more girls involved.
Are you all done with wrestling against boys now?
Officially, I’m done competing against boys. I also just wrestled my last career Folkstyle match at the Girls Folkstyle Nationals last weekend. I split time this high school season between Freestyle and Folkstyle but will now focus 100 percent of my time on the international styles of Freestyle and Greco.
What did all these years on high school teams do for you in terms of development, confidence-building, fun and relationships?
My six years of high school wrestling have been so much fun. I’ve made a lot of friends but best of all, I got to compete with my brother for four of those years and we were on two state tournament teams together as well. Not many brothers and sisters can say that.
In terms of development, I’ve learned to operate while being banged up. I’ve had injured shoulders, knees, ankles, wrists, feet, toes fingers — you name it.
I had a bad knee infection during the first eight weeks of my junior year that we didn’t really tell anyone about. I picked it up while training in Japan just prior to the season starting. If you were to go back and watch film from that time, you might notice a few differences.
I’ve developed an extremely good diet and strength training program during my high school years. That again is thanks to Dr. Josh at Body Rejuvenation.
Are you glad now that it’s going to be all women from now on?
It’s not that I’m glad I’ll only be competing against other female wrestlers from now on but it’s more about that is the direction our sport needs to go if we want to see it grow like it has from the male side. I’m simply glad that I get to compete. I’m grateful for the opportunities that this sport has provided me.
What is next for you, this year, on the mats?
I’ve got the U.S. Open in April, the Junior World Team Trials, the U23 World Team Trials and the Senior World Team Trials all in May, Junior Nationals in July and all throughout the year, I’ll have training camps through the U.S. and overseas.
Have you got a college team, and a major, picked yet?
I plan to major in finance and have narrowed my college choices down to three schools. I will be making the final decision very soon. I’m extremely excited to wrestle in college as well.