SALINA, Kan. - Pratt sophomore Livia Swift remembered winning her league championship after eighth grade. Swift defeated a wrestler who had beaten her by technical fall earlier in the year. Swift hugged her parents. She believed her wrestling career was over.
“That was the last match of my life,” Swift told them. “Like I never thought I was going to wrestle again.”
However, Swift has been able to continue her career. On Thursday, Swift won the 143-pound state championship in a 3-2 decision against Mulvane freshman Kammie Schanz at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center.
It marked the first-ever KSHSAA girls’ sanctioned state wrestling title. The sport, led by McPherson coach Doug Kretzer, has significantly grown in the last four years. Last winter, Kansas had 376 girls out for wrestling.
This season, the numbers grew to nearly 1,000 at regionals. Swift is one of many wrestlers joyful to extend careers. Swift finished 33-3, while Schanz was 30-3. As well, Pratt freshman Jadyn Thompson was fifth at 109. Pratt tied Nickerson for fourth with 41 points.
“It makes me really emotional,” Swift said. “I am probably going to cry.”
Swift was 11-3 as a freshman and third at the unofficial girls’ state tournament last winter in a weight class that featured Onaga’s Morgan Mayginnes and Kansas City Piper’s Sara Lake. Both wrestlers competed in other classes this season and had undefeated state title runs.
“I knew that I would get more experience,” Swift said. “And I would get better and better throughout the season. I already have improved drastically from the beginning of the season.”
Class 143 was considered the deepest weight with multiple wrestlers ranked first this year. Unlike five other weights, it did not feature a nationally ranked wrestler.
Labette County senior Abbie Jones was No. 1 most of the polls. Schanz dropped down from 155 to 143 in late season. Swift was not ranked until January and was never higher than third before regionals. Swift never wrestled Jones. Swift believed “anything’s possible” in the all-classes state tournament.
“It gave me a little more hope to see all the people moving around,” Swift said.
At regionals, she defeated Schanz by fall in 4:53. Swift knew Schanz in the younger ranks and both played football. Schanz was No. 1 entering regionals. At state, Swift was first, Schanz second in the poll.
“I knew she was a tough girl,” Swift said. “We both really wanted it.”
This time, Schanz led the entire match and controlled Swift. With 15 seconds left, Swift made a two-point move and held on for the victory.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get it,” Swift said. “I really wanted to. I wasn’t sure, but I have been in situations like that before, and it’s kind of one of my things that I do, and kind of come back just sometimes at the last moment, kind of clutch moves a little bit. But it was crazy. It was nice.”
Once the match ended, she rolled on her back in celebration and later ran to her coach for a bear hug.
“Deep down, I feel like I can outwork anybody,” Swift said. “The mental toughness is there, and I respect her, I respect all the girls.”