Madelyn Gallant signs letter of intent to wrestle for Pioneers
It seems fitting that Madelyn Gallant will be a Pioneer next school year. The Wadena-Deer Creek senior has been a pioneer for the WDC Wolverine Wrestling program and on Tuesday, the high school senior signed a letter of intent with the Northland Community and Technical College Pioneers to continue her wrestling career.
Gallant made history becoming the first women’s wrestler to commit to the new program. Northland will join Augsburg University as only the second women’s collegiate wrestling program in Minnesota. On April 10, Northland announced the formation of a women’s team to join their men’s team, which was brought back after a 43-year hiatus in 2013.
The National Junior College Athletic Association added Women’s Wrestling as an Emerging Sport in 2021-22 and held a National Invitational Tournament in conjunction with the Men’s Tournament this year. Women’s Wrestling has grown from 804 participants in 1994 to over 31,000 this year throughout the United States. In Minnesota, the MSHSL has sanctioned Girls Wrestling the past two seasons with participation rising from about 200 girls to over 500 this season.
“Wrestling has been my favorite sport to be a part of,” said Gallant said. “I wanted to continue, so when I saw Northland added wrestling, I immediately wanted to be a part of it. After touring campus and talking with staff, I felt comfortable and made my decision to attend Northland and wrestle.”
Gallant grew up with the sport of wrestling. Her father, Norm, served as the head wrestling coach at Wadena-Deer Creek from 2005-2018 and assistant from 1998-2005. Gallant served as a statistician from 7-10th grades before joining as a participant during her junior year, the first year the MSHSL sanctioned the sport for girls.
Gallant qualified for the first Minnesota State Girls Tournament in 2022, placing fourth and was named Academic All-State as well that year.
This season, Gallant placed third in the section tournament, narrowly missing the state meet and finishing her career ranked ninth in the State at 145. She was also elected a captain of the Wolverine Wrestling Squad.
In addition to wrestling, Gallant was academic all-conference in cross country and is an outfielder for the Wolverine softball team. She also participates in band, choir, Business Professionals of America, fall play, student council and was Miss Wadena First Princess. She is a 4.0 student and plans to pursue a degree in exercise science, and she would like to pursue coaching wrestling in the future as well.
“Madelyn has been a great student-athlete for WDC,” said Wolverine Wrestling Coach Brad Wollum. “The past two seasons, she’s grown tremendously not only in the sport of wrestling but as an all-around person. The sport of wrestling has given her confidence that she’ll be carrying with her to Northland and throughout her life. It’s been a pleasure coaching her and I wish her nothing but the best. Congratulations, Madelyn.”
Gallant is a true ambassador for the sport of women’s wrestling.
“The first time I met Madelyn at a tournament, we warmed up as partners, and she was unsure of herself,” said Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale junior and 138-pound state champion Abby Ervasti. “I could tell this was a new sport to her and she was nervous and intimidated. However, throughout the two years I have known her she has blossomed as a wrestler and has become an inspiration to the Wolverines’ female program and a leader in their wrestling room. We have become close on and off of the mat, whether it be as competitors, warm-up partners or just as friends. Madelyn always has an upbeat smile, a great attitude, and a loving personality.”
Gallant was also instrumental in getting other wrestlers to try the sport. Such was the case with Roseau’s Breah Przekwas, who began the season as a team manager for the Rams and was asked to take stats for the first time in her life when the Rams and Wolverines met for a dual meet.
“We had no idea what we were doing and kind of panicked,” Przekwas said. “Maddie came over to help us with stats and taught us how to do them. We were talking about wrestling and how I wanted to join but I was scared. She convinced me it join and told me it’s not as scary as it seems. She was right.”‘
The Pioneers are hoping that Gallant will continue to be a leader as she helps launch another program.
“Madelyn checks all the boxes for what we want in our recruits,” said Assistant Coach Scott DCamp. “She is a great student, athlete, role model and wants to compete and improve. We are excited to have her as our first signee.”
Gallant is the daughter of Norm and Mandy of Wadena, and granddaughter of Paul and Geno Johnson of Thief River Falls. She will graduate May 26 from Wadena-Deer Creek High School.