First-Time Wrestler, First-Time Champion

Apple Valley’s Grace Alagbo

By Brian Jerzak

Many first-time champions were crowned at this year’s Minnesota State Wrestling Tournament. Years of wrestling practice was undoubtedly the route nearly all the wrestlers who stood on the top of the podium – or even lost in the first round – took to the Xcel Energy Center. One notable exception was girls 145-pound champion Grace Alagbo. After her first season ever, the Apple Valley sophomore ended with a gold medal hanging around her neck.

“I had never watched a wrestling match before,” Alagbo admitted. “I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t learn the scoring until later in the season. Once we got to some bigger tournaments, coaches would yell ‘TWO,’ so that is what I went with.”

While she was not familiar with wrestling, she was not unfamiliar with competing in a predominantly male sport.

“I have two brothers and no sisters. I am naturally an aggressive person,” said Alagbo. “I like physical contact sports. I started playing football when I was little, and I started really playing football in middle school. I wasn’t going to play my freshman year, but it would be a high school experience that I wanted. I decided to join the team.”

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