By Zack Huffman
On a typical Thursday afternoon, Mundy's Mill's wrestling team is in the middle of practice.
The wrestlers are in pairs, eagerly sparring with their respective opponents as hip-hop music blares out of a stereo in the back of the wrestling room.
With a quick scan of the room, it is easy to miss the fact that in a room full of Tigers, one of the grapplers is a lady.
Sophomore Tasha Kong is much like any other fifteen year-old in that she looks at extra-curricular activities as simply an opportunity to spend time doing something fun instead of being bored at home.
Instead of becoming just another face on the basketball team, she was drawn to wrestling in the hopes that she would standout and show other girls that they can do anything a boy can.
According to Kong, the toughest obstacles she faced when joining the team was adapting to the rigorous conditioning as well as earning the respect of her male teammates.
"It was really, really hard," she said. "I thought I was about to quit because of all the drills and conditioning."
"I remember the first week she came out," said senior co-captain Christopher Reincher. "She walked out of the first day of conditioning. We were all thinking she was coming out just to quit, but she came back the second day and finished the drill."
Since then, she has become "one of the guys," according to Reincher.
"She works hard and we respect her," he said.
"She's just as competitive as any young man that I've got on my team," said Bynam. "She wrestles hard and she has a heart just as big as any on the team. I've been real impressed with her diligence."
"It took a little time to get their respect because they wanted to prove that I wasn't just in it for attention," she said.
"I had to prove that I was willing to work just as hard.
"A lot of guys were uncomfortable with having a young lady on the team," said Bynam. "After watching her in action, I feel like she's earned their respect. She's certainly earned my respect."
As is to be expected with any first year wrestler, it took Kong a little while to score her first win.
Last week, Kong was able to feel the joy of winning her first match by pinning her Forest Park opponent.
"When I heard the ref slap the mat and blow his whistle, it was just the most amazing thrill I could ever feel," she said.
"Everybody was happy and cheering.
It was crazy."
"When we wrestled Forest Park, it was obvious that the guy took her for granted," said Bynam. "I think a lot of guys out there take a lady for granted and he got caught. When you step on the mat, anybody can win."
"I want to show other girls that they can do it too," said Kong.
In terms of awareness, Reichner has learned along with his fellow wrestlers that there are reasons other than gender that opponents may under estimate Clayton County grapplers.
"With the accreditation problems we've been having, people look down on us," said Reichner.
"We compete just as well as any other team in any other county."
It does not help that Clayton is flanked by Fayette and Henry Counties, which are both known for producing state powers, thanks in part to a vibrant system of feeder programs.
To Bynam, Mundy's Mill is more than just the team with the girl wrestler.
Having made their first appearance at the State Duals tournament, the Tigers are looking for this season to be a historic one that lays the groundwork for great things to come.
"What really impresses me about this group of guys is how big their hearts are," said Bynam. "I'm enjoying myself and we're just having a good time."
Mundy's Mill is a young team with four seniors and two juniors to go along with a mix of sophomores and freshmen.
Never the less, they are currently sitting on a 26-6 record, with second place finishes in the Clayton County Tournament and the 4-AAAAA region duals tournament.
"They're progressing faster than typical first year wrestlers," said Bynam. "I have a lot of athletic kids who are fast learners."
With the state traditional tournament on the horizon, Bynam is hoping the Tigers have one more state appearance to make before the season ends.
"We're building more and more each year," said Reichner. "Within ten years I can see people all over the country talking about Mundy's Mill."