Lil’ Bullet

Varsity Wrestler Reflects on Journey, Achievements, Hardships of High School Career

Posing+for+a+picture%2C+senior+varsity+wrestler%2C+Cassie+King%2C+stands+with+coaches+Andrew+Peterson+and+Beau+Barksdale.+King+was+awarded+the+regional+champion+medal+on+February+15%2C+and+according+to+her%2C+her+coaches+and+their+attitudes+are+what+helped+her+succeed.+%E2%80%9CTheir+strive+for+being+better+than+great+is+remarkable%2C%E2%80%9D+King+said.+%E2%80%9CThey+never+eased+up+on+me+and+always+pushed+me+to+be+the+absolute+best.+It+was+another+standard+that+they+expected+me+to+achieve+because+they+never+wanted+me+to+settle.%22

Photo courtesy of SmugMug

Posing for a picture, senior varsity wrestler, Cassie King, stands with coaches Andrew Peterson and Beau Barksdale. King was awarded the regional champion medal on February 15, and according to her, her coaches and their attitudes are what helped her succeed. “Their strive for being better than great is remarkable,” King said. “They never eased up on me and always pushed me to be the absolute best. It was another standard that they expected me to achieve because they never wanted me to settle."

Ally JohnPress, Reporter

Three time district champion. Three time state qualifier. Three time national competitor. An undefeated senior season.

The stands go silent. Two competitors from either side of the mat meet under a white fluorescent light, each preparing themselves to grapple for the championship. Singlets of opposite colors stand out against the black pad. The whistle signals the start of the match and in a split second one woman is already dominating. Senior varsity wrestler, Cassie King takes the victory.

King’s journey began when her father enrolled her in Jiu Jitsu at the age of nine. She trained until freshman year and then transitioned to wrestling her sophomore year. According to King, once she joined, she loved it. 

“[Wrestling] taught me how to be completely driven and motivated for a big goal,” King said. “It was something that was on my mind all the time. Wrestling forced me to stay disciplined and this helped me so much. It controlled what I ate, how much sleep I got, how many practices [I had] throughout my day, how much water I was drinking a day and how many miles I ran just to make weight for a tournament.”

Throughout the years, King said her coaches, Coach Andrew Peterson and Coach Beau Barksdale, were always there by her side pushing her forwards. 

“Their strive for being better than great is remarkable,” King said. “They never eased up on me and always pushed me to be the absolute best. It was another standard that they expected me to achieve because they never wanted me to settle. I know I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did without them taking advantage of my skills and pushing me harder to perfect my technique and strengthen my weaker areas in wrestling.”

I know I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did without them taking advantage of my skills and pushing me harder to perfect my technique and strengthen my weaker areas in wrestling.”

— Cassie King (12)

According to King, her strengths include maintaining the top position as well as remaining focus and driven during a match, which has caught the attention of other coaches over the years. 

“Most coaches have come to watch me for my arm bars and how I keep position on top,” King said. “I’ve been known for winning my matches typically once I’m on top and can do a series of pinning combinations. But, [other] coaches [look at] how I don’t let escape points happen.”

Although, these skills didn’t come easy. King focused on a variety of workouts, ranging from strength conditioning to sprints. In the weight room she repped deadlifts, explosion cleans,  pull-ups, dips, curls and shrugs. Then there was sprint work and conditioning, and according to King, it was to prepare for matches going into overtime. 

“These workouts target some of the most crucial muscle groups you work with in wrestling,” King said. “The most important key was to force your body through [the] pain of a long distance run by sprinting through. Whether you were winning or losing in a match, it still hurts and by doing so much spring work and long practices, your body becomes used to pushing itself so hard.”

Before a tournament, King said she had to mentally and physically prepare. She put on her sweats and worked through her basic A-C plays, and then when she was loosened up, she listened to her music. 

“My go to song that I play exactly right before I step on the mat is Hallelujah by Tori Kelly,” King said. “This song is so peaceful and to me, [and] it just calms me and gets me focused rather than be distracted.”

Even with intense training and practice, King still faced setbacks.

After the match, when I lost by two points, her hand was raised and it hurt so bad knowing I wasn’t going to the State Finals. What I did to overcome that though was knowing how grateful I was to get an opportunity with no injuries and all the extra clubs and practices I was offered.”

— Cassie King (12)

“One of my hardest moments in wrestling was my first lost senior year,” King said. “I worked hard enough and had the most amazing coaches and support and got the opportunity to go undefeated up until my 44th match in State. After the match, when I lost by two points, her hand was raised and it hurt so bad knowing I wasn’t going to the State Finals. What I did to overcome that though was knowing how grateful I was to get an opportunity with no injuries and all the extra clubs and practices I was offered.”

Instead of dwelling on the past, she aimed her attention towards her improvement and accomplishments. 

“This year I did get a lot better at escaping from bottom,” King said. “I would say it’s one of my weaker positions still, [but] I’m hoping that’s something I’ll be able to focus much more attention to in college wrestling.”

King’s wrestling career will continue throughout college, as she has committed to Texas A&M University. In August, D1 schools are voting on adding women’s wrestling to be an official NCAA sport, and will then distribute scholarships. King will be majoring in Education and then transferring into nursing to work in pediatrics.

“Wrestling was something that truly impacted me because I was given the opportunity to learn the true difference between victory and defeat,” King said. “It became a true part of my identity and I’m forever thankful for that.”