‘No mercy’: Free State junior Madyson Gray looking to defend state crown in girls wrestling
photo by: Courtesy photo
Free State junior Madyson Gray glanced at her bracket ahead of Thursday’s state wrestling tournament, but she didn’t feel the need to do an in-depth breakdown of her potential opponents.
One might attribute that to the fact Gray is already a two-time state champion, including a state title at the first official state girls wrestling tourney just 12 months ago. There should be a certain level of confidence for Gray as she attempts to defend her crown this week.
Instead, that is really just the attitude that Gray has taken to the mat all season. She’s not concerned about who her opponent is any match. Gray is just trying to wrestle every bout to her best ability, regardless of the level of competition.
“A lot of it is just trying to go in there and just kick butt,” Gray said of her mindset. “Just really wrestle everyone the same. Wrestle as hard as I can, just in a way (show) no mercy.”
Gray has never lost a match against a girl at the high school level, a fact she was not even aware of until brought to her attention earlier this week. Gray went 34-0 as a sophomore on her way to winning a state title a season ago.
Gray, who is the top-ranked wrestler in the 132-pound weight class, is 14-0 entering this year’s state tourney, which will take place at Hartman Arena in Park City. Despite the unblemished records in both campaigns, Gray admits that her wins have felt different this season.
“I think definitely my mindset has gotten a lot stronger,” Gray said. “Last year, I was too focused on like, ‘Oh, this girl doesn’t have much experience. I’m going to be nicer during the match and I’m going to let them wrestle.'”
This year, though, Gray hasn’t shown any mercy in her matches. She has pinned all 14 of the female wrestlers that she has faced this year.
Gray’s new mentality actually was formed well before the high school season even started. While competing during club season, Gray dropped a match that she had no business losing at the Rocky Mountain Nationals in the summer.
It was a bout that really put things in perspective for Gray, who is a nationally-ranked wrestler.
“I kind of wasn’t taking the tournament very seriously,” Gray said. “I got beat by a girl that I shouldn’t have gotten beat by, and so I kind of just stopped worrying about who’s who and I just wrestle hard and wrestle tough.”
It has allowed Gray to have success on the mat even when she has to face a male wrestler, which is something she didn’t do last year. Gray went 7-4 in the varsity boys division this season, and contributed to Free State’s undefeated regular season.
Gray, who last wrestled against boys during her freshman year, admitted that the competition has helped her grow as a wrestler. The highlight of Gray’s season was when she pinned a male wrestler from Mill Valley in the final period, despite trailing for the entire match.
“I’ve gotten back more into wrestling like a guy in a way,” Gray said. “A lot of girls that I know practice with girls so they don’t wrestle that way, so it’s just different.”
That is ultimately why Gray isn’t concerned with who is in her bracket, despite having a target on her back as a defending state champion. Gray will face Wichita North freshman Jaycee Tyler (10-11) in the opening round.
Gray and Tyler are two of three non-seniors in the 132-pound bracket. With a win, Gray will face Wichita South senior Alexandra LaForge (17-3) or Olathe West senior Elle Fishburn (23-6) in the semifinals.
Garden City senior Angelina Serrano (16-3), Washburn Rural senior Allise Romine (18-11), Sumner Academy senior Jadyn Bond (4-1) and Dodge City sophomore Leslie Garcia (9-8) are in the top-half of the bracket.
While Gray isn’t concerned with who she has to face, it is not lost on her that she is three wins away from another state crown and what that could mean.
“It would be so cool,” Gray said. “It would be one more year closer to (being) a four-timer.”
Opening ceremonies for the girls state wrestling tournament will begin at 11:45 a.m., with the first round slated to start at 12 p.m. Thursday.
Baldwin girls sending six wrestlers to state
Fresh off winning a substate title, Baldwin’s girls wrestling team will have six wrestlers competing in the Class 4A-1A state tournament on Friday at the Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina.
Senior Emma Grossoehme is back at state for the second year in a row, posting a 34-4 record in the 143-pound weight class. Grossoehme won her bracket last weekend, and is aiming for a high finish after not placing last winter.
Sophomore Madi Hargett also returns for a second trip to the state tourney after not placing last season. She is 18-12 in the 235-pound weight class entering this weekend. Freshman Hayleigh Wempe (31-4) is looking to build off her individual title at substate.
Sophomore Audrey Darnell (26-6, 138-pound weight class), senior Daniela Kozacova (19-12, 155-pound weight class) and Jasmine Renyer (25-9, 191-pound weight class) will also be in action for the Bulldogs.
All athletes need just one win in the eight-wrestler bracket to find the podium. Competition begins at 12 p.m. Friday.