Megan Young sat in the Mount Baker girls' locker room prior to the 2010-11 winter sports season conflicted as ever.
She held a registration card for basketball in one hand. The other hand held a wrestling card.
"It's kind of a funny story," Young explained in a phone interview. "My sophomore year, I had both red cards in my hand - one for wrestling and one for basketball. I walked out of the locker room and didn't know what to do."
Mountaineers' girls' wrestling coach Clyde Blockley happened to walk by, saw Young and grabbed her wrestling registration card.
The rest is history.
"I walked into the wrestling room, and I just kind of fell in love with it," Young said.
Young, a dual-sport athlete, who's a standout in the infield for Baker's softball team, chose wrestling over basketball.
It's been good decision.
Young reached the Tacoma Dome in her first year. She placed seventh at state last year, wrestling at 137 pounds. Young helped Mount Baker finish fourth at the Mat Classic two years ago. Her 3-2 record at state as a junior, contributed to Baker's sixth-place finish.
It didn't take long for Young to make an immediate impression on Blockley.
"Right from the start, she was really aggressive," Blockley said in a phone interview. "There are a lot of kids who are kind of shy at the beginning, but she went right after it."
Now a senior, the 130-pound wrestler is looking to uphold Baker's success as a power in girls' wrestling and also improve on last year's finish.
"We don't really have a lot of older girls this year," Young said. "I think there's only three seniors - me, Jamie (VanderYacht) and Aysha (Schwinden). Lacy Cannon is a junior, and the rest are pretty much new, but we are looking really good. We've been practicing for three weeks now and have been learning a lot."
Preseason work is especially important for Mount Baker. The Mountaineers graduated five of their eight state wrestlers from last season. That doesn't include 2011-12 state champion Raney Lepper, who didn't compete at state last year due to injury.
Blockley said Young and Cannon have taken on a newfound leadership roles in the wrestling room.
"(Young) and Lacy (Cannon) have been doing a lot of the practice work for me and just kind of sticking out a little more than last year," Blockley said. "They've been able to show the young girls moves we teach."
Young has welcomed the chance to be a team leader.
"Me and Lacy want to push, but we don't want to be super brutal at practice," Young said. "We have gotten to know what everyone's level is and what girls can push on. I love working with the girls I'm with. It's so much fun for me. To be one of the leaders, it's a blessing. It's just coming in everyday, working with the girls and giving them positive feedback."
There's nothing nice or polite about Young in the wrestling circle when facing competition, though.
The Mount Baker senior takes a business-like approach once the referee's whistle is blown. She's not trying to make friends.
"I don't really smile, and I'm not too friendly when I'm out there," Young said. "I don't talk to any of the girls I'm going to wrestle. I'm not going to try to be their friend. I just try to go in there with a clear mind and try to execute."
The approach has worked, and Mount Baker boys' wrestling coach, Ron Lepper, who also works with the girls, said Young has become much more mentally strong since she started the sport.
"She is pretty athletic and has some good natural ability," Lepper said in a phone interview. "For me, when I work with Megan, I try to get her to be even more mentally tough. That is what got her to be a state placer last year."
Young's journey through last year's 130-pound bracket served as textbook example of her mental growth.
She was pinned in her first match, but won three out of her next four, including her final seventh-eight-place match. Young pinned Washougal's Erin Locke moments before the second period ended.
"I pinned her with 20 seconds to go," Young recalled. "That really got me pumped for this year. A lot of the girls that placed above me are going to be (at state), but I'm hoping I can do better than seventh."
Armed with new moves added to her wrestling repertoire, there's no telling how the 130- or 137-pound-state bracket will shape up come February.
"I don't want to jump the gun, but first would be unreal," Young said. "Anything better than seventh, I'd be happy with."
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.