Among Nixa’s seven COC Tournament champions last month were freshmen Abigail Counts and Ashton Mayes.
They fall in line with several other current and former Lady Eagles who made their way onto the mat thanks to an older brother. Counts’ older brother Colton and Mayes’ older brother Sam also wrestle for Nixa. Mayes’ step-brother, Parker Mann, previously wrestled for the Eagles.
“In seventh grade, he said I should join the wrestling team, so I did,” Abigail said. “After tournaments, he showed me what I could do better if I lost a match.”
“I went to their tournaments and was curious. I wanted to get out and wrestle around with them,” Ashton said. “Them showing me moves influenced me to get on a team and try it out.”
They both took an instant liking to wrestling.
“I loved it, even though in my first tournament I was a cry-baby. But I cry about everything,” Mayes said. “Seeing all the coaches push everyone to their limits and make them better made me want to keep going for success.”
They both also experienced immediate success. Counts was a youth state champion as a seventh- and eighth-grader, while Mayes finished second as a seventh-grader.
Both Counts and Mayes place a strong emphasis on their mindsets.
“I've grown a lot mentally,” Counts said. “The amount of time I have put in, going to as many practices as I could and the people I’ve practiced with has helped me understand what I'm doing. Once you start thinking at the end of the match that you're getting tired, I think, 'I know they're more tired than me.’ If they're tired, that pushes me harder to try to make them even more tired.”
“Having the right mindset to win and push myself to be a better wrestler,” Mayes said. “If you don't have the right mindset and thinking you're going to lose, you're probably going to lose. If you go out there thinking, 'Okay, I've got this,' you have such a better chance of winning.”
Entering Districts this weekend in Belton, Mayes has compiled a 30-9 record at 110 pounds and Counts is 30-10 at 125. They both have set State berths as a goal.
“I want to at least get to State, if not place,” Mayes said.
“I want to place at State and, if possible, get in the top three,” Counts said.
Nixa’s list of COC champions also included Kelsey Watts at 105, Mylee Harper at 120, Addison Harkins at 130, Brenya Crahan at 145 and Caly Dupree at 155.
They will be trying to help the Lady Eagles to their program’s first Class 2 state championship. Nixa is ranked No. 1 in statewide by MissouriWrestling.com.
“We can get a state title because of the amount of girls and the skill level of the girls,” Counts said.