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|King College’s Ragan gears up for University Nationals this weekend, U.S. Open and World Team Trials |
By Meagan Templeton-Lynch USA Wrestling
Some wrestlers enjoy wrestling because of its individuality. It is not a team sport. But Alli Ragan, a junior at King College, looks at it differently. She cites the closeness of her team as one of her favorite things about wrestling.
“We have a really close team, we’re like a family,” Ragan said. “They make winning so much better. I win by myself, but my win and the points I get [in dual meets] contribute to our team’s win. Individual events, like the U.S. Open, you do wrestle for yourself, but the team that I have here has made me better, the coaches have made me better. It’s great coming back to that.”
Ragan began wrestling in first grade because her older brother wrestled and her father was a coach, so she grew up around it. Despite being the only girl wrestler in her region, Ragan loved the sport.
“I was really the only girl competing in my area in high school and as a kid and it was like, oh there’s that girl wrestler. But it wasn’t that bad,” she said. “My parents really supported me and my teammates in high school were great. They were like my brothers. I was really part of the team.”
Ragan is a star athlete with two Junior World bronze medals under her belt at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. She also went 3-1 at the 2013 World Cup in Mongolia at the beginning of March, defeating women from Belarus, Japan and Kazakhstan.
Ragan’s bronze medals from the 2011 and 2012 Junior World Championships are bittersweet.
“My first year at Junior Worlds, it was a whole new thing to compete internationally so when I got the bronze it was the coolest thing ever,” she said. “But losing at Junior Worlds this past year [was disappointing]. I wanted to win a gold medal, but I lost in my third match to make it to the finals. So instead of getting first I ended up getting bronze again. I was pretty disappointed.”
Bouncing back from her loss with the help of her team and her coaches, Ragan said she just focuses on learning from her mistakes to make sure they don’t happen again. She is also recently down to wrestling at 59 kg, a better fit for her, she said. She and her team have been training extensively for the upcoming University National Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., March 29-31.
Her coach at King College, Jason Moorman, is also looking forward to this weekend’s event.
“I think we’re going to be pretty competitive,” Moorman said. “We’ve got some competitive girls that are going to be at this event. Alli is definitely one of those that will stand out.”
Ragan does not have any long-term wrestling goals. Her plans are simple: take it one season at a time.
“U.S. Open is coming up in April so I hope to do well in that tournament, then hopefully get on the Senior World Team or make the National Team,” she said. “I’ve never done either one of those because I’ve always been a Junior.”
Beyond wrestling, Ragan is working toward a degree in education and administration. She hopes to work as an athletic director first at a high school and then work her way up. She anticipates that she will graduate in the fall of 2014.
“I like being around sports. In high school I worked in the athletic office and I really got a feel for it and I said, OK this is definitely what I want to do.”
Ragan’s love of sports does not stop with her wrestling or her career goals. She also plays on soccer and volleyball intramural teams at King and plays tennis, reads and does yoga in her free time.
“I’m always on the go. I like to stay active. I can never not be doing something,” said Ragan.
Her on-the-go attitude also translates to her wrestling. A self-described offensive wrestler, Ragan likes not just to win, but to dominate her matches.
“I’m always on the attack,” she said. “I’m always trying to set something up and get more points. I wrestled boys in high school and they would always be fast and be on the attack. So I’m very offensive. I think that’s very different than some of the other girls I wrestle, who sometimes never shoot in a match.”
Ragan is a vital member of her team at King and a pleasure to coach, said Moorman, who has been her coach now for nearly three years.
“Coaching her is great. She’s probably one of the hardest workers I’ve known. She is constantly working on her game, working to make improvements,” Moorman said. “It’s been fun to be there and be by her side and be in her corner while she’s accomplished some great things. I think that it would be hard to say that our team would be right where we’re at if it wasn’t for her. That’s how valuable she’s been to have in the last three years.”
Sports may dominate a lot of Ragan’s time, but even with her busy schedule, she does not let the other important things in her life fall through the cracks.
“Wrestling has kind of been my life here in college, but school is really important. I have a dog that I love. My family, my friends and my teammates are all very important,” she said.