McPherson High School wrestler Addie Lanning broke a number of barriers Thursday morning.
With her signature on a letter of intent to Ottawa University, Lanning became not only the first female grappler to sign with the Braves, but the first wrestler signed to the fledgling program, period.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Lanning said. “It’s definitely kind of added to a pretty sweet deal. Just kind of looking forward to meeting with every one else now.”
Lanning, who has been wrestling since the third grade, has seen a lot of success, both with the MHS program and with the MAC Wrestling Club under Lance and Chandra Engel, who have served as mentors to Lanning throughout her career.
“Addie was always good at choosing what she wanted to do and willing to work hard to acheive those dreams,” Lance Engel said. “I think she will do well taking it to the next level. She has already shown that she can handle the national competition. This is another huge step in womens wrestling and I know Addie will represent us all well. We are extremely proud of her.”
She is a two-time USAW All-American and a Fargo Nationals Freestyle All-American. Lanning has been ranked nationally in the top five in the USGWA for the past six years and is a five-time USAW Kansas Women’s Wrestling state-champion. She has been the Southern Plain Regional Championship Freestyle women’s champion and taken second place at the Body Bar National.
In three years wrestling at MHS, Lanning has 23 career wins, 12 by fall, with 39 take downs. In her senior season, she has a 3-1 record as of Thursday.
“Athletically,” MHS coach Doug Kretzer said, “she’s as good of a girl wrestler as they’re going to find in the nation, not just in the state and in this local area. Wrestling has been who she is for basically her entire life.”
It’s that pedigree that drew newly minted Ottawa University coach Kevin Andres to sign Lanning as his first-ever recruit.
“It was actually Thanksgiving week that I got her recruiting form,” Andres said. “Her accomplishments as a wrestler were exactly what I’m looking for to build the program. She was one of the first phone calls I made when I started work with the program on Dec. 2.”
Andres will be building Braves wrestling program, both men’s and women’s, from the ground up, a situation he is very familiar with.
He has started four different collegiate wrestling programs in 16 years and has coached 27 All-Americans (19 men and eight women) and has had teams finish in the top 10 in the nation seven times. He has been a four-time National Collegiate Wrestling Association Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and was inducted into the NCWA Hall of Fame as a founding member and executive board member.
Page 2 of 3 - “He’s awesome,” Lanning said of Andres. “He’s definitely made a difference in my choosing of what school to go to and things like that.”
For Lanning, who is the daughter of Brian and Mindy Lanning, another person who convinced her to sign with Ottawa was her brother, Zach Lanning, who is an All-KCAC defensive lineman for the Braves.
“He tells me that he really likes where he’s at,” Lanning said. “We’re kind of close to the same person, so if it fits him, it will probably fit me.”
Lanning, who is listed at the 145 pound weight class on the MHS roster this season, will most likely drop down to 136 or 140 when she joins the Braves next fall, where she will be one of an anticipated 15 girls and will be facing only female competition, though she will still practice against the Ottawa men’s team.
“It will be different to change to an all girls schedule,” Lanning said. “Girls and guys wrestling is just so different. [Girls] have to take an advantage somehow and, technition-wise, are kind of tough, I think.”
Kretzer knows what obstacles Lanning has faced as a woman wrestling predominately men and has been very supportive of Lanning throughout her career, going so far as to ask her to document her experiences as a female wrestler for USA Wrestler magazine in her sophomore year. That article can be found online at http://www.themat.com/CoachesCorner/OvercomingAdversities.pdf.
With all her experiences wrestling her male counterparts, Kretzer believes she will excel against her own gender.
“To be honest, she has performed pretty well against the boys, historically,” Kretzer said. “Some of those wins are at varsity level tournaments. She’s a phenominal technition. She’s got great power for a girl in her weight class. She’s going to be mat-ready when she gets [to Ottawa]. I would be surprised if she wasn’t ready to be a solid competitor right out of the gates.”
Lanning isn’t going to shy away from the competition, either, if history is any judge. Wrestling is a huge part of her life and misses it when she’s not competing on the mat.
“I feel like, when I’m not I wrestling, I feel like I’m lazy and feel like I’m just sitting on the sidelines,” Lanning said. “I think if I wasn’t doing it, I don’t know what else I would do.”
Lanning also was a member of the Bullpup girls’ soccer team last spring and is anticipating joining again for her senior season. While wrestling is the first love, she did state she may try to be a two-sport athlete while at Ottawa and try for the Braves’ soccer team.
Page 3 of 3 - Kretzer believes that the soon-to-be Brave is a positive role model for every girl wrestling in the McPherson area.
“We welcome girls to give this a try,” Kretzer said. “That’s one thing our sport needs is more females wrestling. They’re wrestling at the Olympic level, they’re wrestling at the college level. We’ve got three girls on the [high school] team right now, one at the middle school and numerous at the club level. So it’s coming. But for [Lanning] to be the first one to make that jump, that’s makes a big statement. We’re going to be proud of that for a long time.”
Contact Chris Swick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @SwickSentinel.