Lakyn Gatens because first Callaway girl wrestler to place at a tournament

Published 5:38 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023

Lakyn Gatens is making history at Callaway. On Saturday, the Cavalier sophomore became the first female wrestler in program history to place at an individual wrestling event.

“It made me feel proud of myself because, with my other sports, I have never been the best at, so to have a sport I can be good at really makes me feel good about myself,” Gatens said. 

Gatens finished fourth in her weight class for the tournament at Jordan High. She finished the day 2-2 in her first matches since she stepped away from the sport a couple of years ago.

“I hadn’t wrestled since middle school, so I was excited and nervous at the same time and I doubted myself a little bit,” Gatens said. “I did better as the day went along.”

Gatens stepped away from the sport due to her having to constantly wrestle boys, a prospect she felt underpowered for. But when Gatens heard about an all-female division that she and other Callaway girls could compete in, she decided to give it another go.

“I thought I would give it a try and see if I love it again and as soon I got back on the mat I realized how much I loved it and how much I missed it,” Gatens said. 

She felt at home being back on the mat.

Unfortunately, Gatens’ excitement and nervousness got the better of her in her opening match as she was dominated.

“As soon as I got in there I got nervous and I let my mind beat me because it was all mental for me,” Gatens said. “I flipped a switch after that.”

An angry Gatens rebounded and won two straight.

“I was very mad and the girl I wrestled first was really physical with me, so I flipped that switch and decided I would not let this next girl manhandle me,” Gatens said. “I got mad and told myself I had to be a dog and change my attitude about this.”

Gatens did not always know how to harness and channel her anger on the mat. When she first started wrestling in middle school, she described herself as not aggressive enough. That is no longer a problem for Gatens as the determined sophomore showed her newfound tenacity on Saturday.

There was not a long warmup period for Gatens as she hopped straight from softball season into wrestling, getting on the mats for the first time in two years in October. 

I do have the big end goal of qualifying for state and placing, but I don’t want to overdo myself, so my goals right now our to place at every tournament and build myself up each time,” Gatens said.

The Callaway girls wrestling team is made of just five members currently in its first year. Gatens is leading the way with poise and confidence.

“The girls really help me compete,” Gatens said. “Having a small group of girls means that we are really close and we motivate each other.”