High School National Wrestling Champion Kira Wyckoff ’12 tore up the mat with pins and points right after spring break.
On March 31 and April 1, Wyckoff won her weight class for the USGWA (United States Girls Wrestling Association) National Tournament held in Ypsilanti, MI.
Wyckoff wrestled eight competitors and beat all of them in a round-robin style tournament.
When asked what the hardest part of the entire competition was, Wyckoff described her final match.
“Halfway through… I was actually losing in the third period point-wise and there were only 30 seconds left. But then I just reminded myself that I didn’t go there to lose, and I channeled that energy,” she said.
Wyckoff has had little wrestling experience outside of Andover, so she did not know how she would stack up against the other girls, who were on club teams.
“The tournament was so different from the usual PA season because the competitors came from all over the country, and it was interesting to hear about what they were doing and how their training compared to mine. I tried not to psych myself out, but I definitely checked out my competition,” she said.
Because the popularity of girls wrestling is relatively new, there was a small number of competitors and there were no qualifications for those who entered the Tournament.
“I have never wrestled against that many girls here [at Andover], so it felt great to have so many matches. Although, I did wish the competition was even harder,” Wyckoff said.
Having travelled by herself to Michigan for the tournament, Wyckoff said that being alone actually helped motivate her.
“I did not want to have gone all the way there for nothing. It compelled me to not lose,” said Wyckoff.
When she takes on her opponents, Wyckoff harnesses her competitive spirit, an attribute that caused her to fall in love with wrestling.
“I was really just running through the moves in my head that I have practiced during the season. I always want to try new techniques, but when the adrenaline kicks in, I only consistently use the moves that I am most comfortable with and that would be the most effective. I visualize a lot in all of my sports,” she said.
The two days of Nationals were stressful, as Wyckoff had to be aware of what she ate and drank throughout the weekend to make her weight cutoff.
Wyckoff was a valued member of Andover Wrestling and loved contributing to the team. She acknowledges that Andover’s wrestling program took her to the next level and ultimately paved the way to her win at Nationals.
“[Wyckoff] is the most powerful female wrestler we have ever had at Phillips Academy,” said Mark Efinger, Coach of Andover Wrestling. “Her upper body strength is too much for most of her opponents. She wrestles with the boys in our practice room and never balks from the challenges. She has worked diligently and intelligently to learn an expansive vocabulary of wrestling moves, and she the mixes them well, responding to the style of her opponents.”
When being congratulated on such a victory, Wyckoff cannot help but smile.
“It’s always fun to be first and to stand up there [on the podium] with a big medal. But I guess the biggest validation was that all of my hard work paid off,” said Wyckoff.
Before going into her final match at Nationals, Wyckoff knew that it would be her last ever.
“For right now, I think I am finished with the sport,” she said.