If anyone attended a Blaine wrestling practice, they might be led to believe there’s no girls’ team. And while it’s true there technically is no girls’ team, there is a girls’ wrestler and she’s pretty darn good.
That wrestler is Olivia Adams, who took home a third-place medal at Mat Classic XXVI last year. It was her third straight year of qualifying for the state championships but only her first trip where she left with a medal.
“That was really exciting,” Adams said in a phone interview. “I was really proud of myself and hopefully I’ll do better this year.”
This year, Adams is trying something new — a new weight class that is. After competing at 130 pounds last year, the Borderite will wrestler at 135 her senior season.
“I’m not sure what to expect yet,” Adams said. “I’ll have to wait until I go into some girls’ tournaments to see how that is. Hopefully I do well.”
But Adams has something many other girls’ wrestlers in the state don’t. Or rather other girls have something she doesn’t — other girls to compete with in practice.
Just don’t ask Adams what it’s like to not have any girls to train with. She wouldn’t know.
Since middle school, Adams has always been the only girl on the team.
“I don’t really know what its like to have girls’ wrestling,” Adams said. “So I don’t know if I’m missing anything or not.”
However, because she was the only girl on the middle school team, she thought that wrestling wasn’t going to be something she could do in high school.
She knew the boys’ team was intense and that was a little intimidating.
“There was a time when I never thought I’d wrestle in high school,” Adams said. “It’s always so hard to compete with guys if you’re a girl.”
But Adams approached Blaine coach Craig Foster about it anyway. Foster, of course, gladly took on the middleweight wrestler.
The rest of the story wrote itself. She fit right in from the first day and has flourished with the Borderites.
“She’s not a girl out here wrestling boys,” Foster said in a phone interview. “She’s just one of the wrestlers we have.”
Competing with a state champion boys’ squad definitely has its advantages for Adams, who Foster says will beat some of the guys sometimes and lose some others.
Not only does she get to wrestle some of the top boys’ wrestlers in the state, but she also gets to learn new things.
“The guys wrestle different than girls do,” Adams said. “So I try a lot of different things to broaden what I work on and what I’m good at.”
Part of the difference between the two genders is the style of wrestling. Girls tend to wrestle with their upper bodies, attempting a lot of throws, while guys shoot a lot more, forcing Adams to watch her legs, she said.
Guys also wrestle with an extremely high intensity, something Adams tries to replicate.
“Wrestling with guys makes me a lot stronger,” Adams said. “They push themselves to the limit so I do too with them.”
And because Adams is able to push herself as much as the guys, it’s been the perfect scenario for her, Foster said.
“They don’t think of her as a girl, they think of her as a team member,” Foster said.
The biggest difference, however, is that they rarely get to see her wrestle against girls. Most of the tournaments Adams attends coincide with a boys’ tournament on the same day, meaning Foster and the boys are not with Adams until the Mat Classic.
That’s why a standout memory for Adams happens to be a loss. It was a match where she competed with a girl, who went on to win the state championship, that was a weight class above her. Adams lost but the boys’ team was there cheering her on.
“They never get to see me wrestle except at state,” Adams said. “I showed them I was able to wrestle a weight class above me and it was still close.”
Despite not having her team or coach with her, Adams still has a support team of her parents and a friend or two that come and watch her wrestle, as well as her middle school coach.
It also gives her the liberty to warm up the way she wants to and “just worry about myself,” she said.
Entering into her senior season, she hasn’t set any specific goals, but wants to get back to state and see how far she can go. A lot of that depends on the girls in her weight class and the matchups she draws, but there’s plenty of hope for the Blaine star.
“I’m just really proud of watching how tough she is. She hangs in there with everything we do and handles it,” Foster said. “I’m proud of the way she’s evolved. She’s a great kid, a 4.0 student. She’s pretty smart and that helps in wrestling.”