LINCOLN CITY, Ind. (WEHT) – Makenzie Smith isn’t your prototypical wrestler, but she’s doing her part to take down the stereotype, and the competition.
Smith is a freshman at Heritage Hills High School, and the first female wrestler in school history.
“She’s an ambassador right now for our female population,” said Heritage Hills head coach Adam Zollman.
Smith is the only female wrestler on her team, and among a select few in the state of Indiana.
Because of that fact, and because the IHSAA doesn’t yet recognize high school girls wrestling, Smith oftentimes wrestles against boys. However, Smith doesn’t back down.
“Some people just don’t want to wrestle me because they feel like it’s going to be too easy of a match, but it isn’t,” Smith said.
“She’s wrestling our guys all day long,” Zollman said. “She’s wrestling our guys, and I think right now, her high school record against guys is like 28-6 or 26-8. She’s got 30 plus matches against guys throughout the year.”
Being the lone girl on the roster can be challenging, but Smith said the team has embraced her as their own.
“It wasn’t weird at all, because nobody made it weird,” Smith said. “And now, we’re just a big family all in one, and we just mess with each other just like anyone else.”
“Most of them are scared of her,” Zollman joked. “That’s the fun part. She’s one of ours. Female, male, it doesn’t matter. You know, we treat her just the same. For guys, it’s their sister. Just like we’re all brothers; it’s their sister.”
The freshman is doing more than trailblazing at Heritage Hills. Smith is the No. 1 wrestler in the state in her weight class, and has the opportunity to win her first individual state championship on Friday. Her coaches believe it won’t be her last.
“The full expectation is that she’ll be a four-year state champ,” Zollman said. “And if its not, then we’re doing something wrong in the room. Whether that comes to fruition or not, I don’t know. But that’s our goal, that’s our plan. That’s what we train for.”
“I’m confident, but its more against her,” said assistant coach Nathan Lamar. “If she loses, it’s going to be mental. But I think she’s physically there and mentally there, prepared.”
State champion or not, Smith hopes her ambition to break the mold inspires other girls to do the same.
“Just keep going after your dreams, and don’t give up,” Smith said. “Even if there’s something holding you back. Just keep going. It doesn’t matter. Just think of yourself as people, instead of genders in what you’re trying to accomplish.”
(This story was originally published on January 13, 2020)