The Rise of Girls Wrestling: Marisol Nugent ’20 and Dani Nugent ’25 Inspire the New England Wrestling Community

Marisol Nugent ’20 watches a wrestling match from a technical perspective, offering key points of feedback to help wrestlers improve.

Marisol Nugent ’20 returns to Andover for the second year to host a clinic for female wrestlers.

Women’s Wrestling is currently one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. Yet, when Marisol Nugent ’20 and Dani Nugent ’25 first began wrestling, the girls’ wrestling scene was nearly nonexistent. Now, with 41 schools attending the 10th Annual Female Wrestling Tournament at Andover, New England continues to nurture an ever-growing girls wrestling community. As winners of multiple championships and recipients of nationally recognized awards, both Marisol and Dani Nugent have forged trailblazing paths in the sport.

According to Marisol Nugent, her father, Joe Nugent, who wrestled for Boston College, coached her twin brother when she was little. Although Marisol grew up surrounded by wrestlers, she and her sister did not receive instruction in the sport until much later due to lack of female representation in professional wrestling.

“He would let us go watch wrestling sometimes, but the girls weren’t signed up for wrestling for a long time. And when I first asked my dad, he said no, because he didn’t think that girls were allowed to wrestle, he didn’t think there would be practices or tournaments for us… And then one day, when I was in fourth or third grade, we saw another girl at a tournament, so my sisters and I made him go ask her parents how to sign up for wrestling,” said Marisol Nugent.

Wrestling Head Coach Kassie Bateman ’06 described Marisol Nugent’s leading role in making women’s wrestling accessible to more girls. Through social media initiatives and collaborations with coaching staff at various schools, Marisol Nugent advertised wrestling to a wide audience. During that time, she was also named the New England Outstanding Wrestler and awarded the National Prep title in 2020.

Bateman said, “Her Senior Year was the first year that we had an official Girls Division at New England and an official Girls Division at National Prep, and she’ll always say she does it for the younger generation, specifically for her sister. She does all this work so that her sister has the opportunities that she had to fight to create for herself. And so Marisol, in particular, has been a leader in the girls wrestling community for quite some time.”

Inspired by Coach Bateman and looking to support Dani Nugent and other female wrestlers, Marisol Nugent returned to run clinics for the second year at Andover’s 10th Annual Female Wrestling Tournament. After competing at the tournament eight years ago, she has seen the program gain traction, and looking forward, she hopes to further expand girls wrestling throughout New England.

“Coming back to Andover as a clinician is just a really great opportunity because I competed at that tournament… I’ve watched it grow; I’ve watched it develop… and being a clinician means having the opportunity to come home and be around my sister… Anytime that I can teach her, that I can help her, that I can just share space with her, I’ll take that opportunity because she’s one of my best friends and this sport is something that I get to share with her,” said Marisol Nugent.

Dani Nugent attributes much of her personal growth and work ethic to her sister. Despite a five-year age gap, she sees Marisol Nugent not only as a source of inspiration but also as her toughest opponent.

“One of the ways she’s helped me improve is by being my biggest competitor. Every time she comes home from college, we make sure to go on a run, scrap with each other. And, her being my sister, she pushes me to my fullest. It’s not necessarily [that] she’s giving me all this technique, but it’s that she’s always in the back of my mind driving me to work harder, to be as good as her,” said Dani Nugent.

Despite the recent rise of girls’ wrestling, the sport has been dominated by males for a long time. Dani Nugent noted that her sister’s guidance instilled confidence in her to compete fiercely regardless of her opponents. Marisol Nugent had ranked sixteenth in the co-ed National Prep League, and was the only female in her weight class.

Dani Nugent said, “In so many ways, she has just given me the confidence to enter a room full of boys and be able to still have the confidence to compete with them, to be able to score on them. Watching her do that my whole childhood and going into these boys tournaments, I’ve only been able to do it because I’ve seen her do it in the past, and I believe that it’s manageable and it’s doable.”

At the 10th Annual Female Wrestling Tournament, Dani Nugent was named Outstanding Wrestler and won first place in her respective weight class. Marisol Nugent praised her sister for being a role model for the Andover wrestling community and also highlighted the intensity of her matches.

“Dani has contributed to the sport just by being there, just by being a strong and fearless leader to the other girls in the community and the girls around her and by being a good teammate. So, I think she’s done wonders. Even the fact that at the Phillips Academy tournament last weekend she was in such a high-level competitive match, a one-to-nothing match. That’s something I never would have expected in Massachusetts. So, it just shows me that she’s kind of setting that gold standard of what women’s wrestling looks like,” said Marisol Nugent.

With Interschols Class A, New Englands, and Nationals approaching, Dani Nugent shared her aspirations of taking her wrestling journey to an international level.

“The next three weekends are going to be really big tournaments for me. [I am] hoping to become a three-time Prep National Champion. And then following this season, I want to make a world team, which I have world team trials in April. And then I have so many dreams in the sport, like becoming a Fargo National Champion and then taking it to the college level,” said Dani Nugent.