At the UIL State Wrestling tournament in Austin from Feb. 21-23, senior Vanessa Smith became the first Allen female wrestler to both advance to the finals and win. Smith was one of seven Allen wrestlers to win an individual championship.
“I worked really hard all year,” Smith said. “[I] worked really hard the past four years and to come out with another state title meant a lot. Hard work pays off, and it felt really good.”
This marks the second state championship Smith has won in Texas, beating Sarah Flanagan of League City Clear Falls in the finals. The first one came in 2011 when she lived in Frisco and she also won championships in Minnesota, Iowa and Kansas for a total of five state titles.
“[Smith] had a very good game plan, moved very well and before it was all over, she was wowing the crowd,” assistant wrestling coach Todd Wyckoff, who has coached Smith all season, said. “The ease that she was able to score points and just the way she was able to move on the mat, you could see that she was something special.”
Smith moved to Allen from Apple Valley, Minnesota, at the beginning of this school year and is one of two female wrestlers at Allen. Allen doesn’t have its own girls wrestling program, but the girls occasionally practice with the guys.
“Well Allen’s always been built on men’s wrestling and because of that we haven’t really had a girls team,” Wyckoff said. “[Vanessa] could be the catalyst to starting a full-fledged girls program here.”
Smith said that she does not think that girl wrestlers face any extra challenges compared to male wrestlers.
“It’s not about whether you’re a girl or guy,” Smith said. “You’re a wrestler on the mat. We all work hard to achieve everything we accomplish.”
Smith has signed to wrestle at Wayland Baptist University in college but said that she has enjoyed being a part of the Allen wrestling program.
“It’s an honor to be a part of something so great,” Smith said. “I mean, coming into the school, I knew they were a great wrestling team, so it felt pretty good to be able to be a part of the team and wrestle for state with Allen.”