Wrestler makes women's national team


Sports editor

Sally Roberts, a 1999 Federal Way High graduate, took took third place in the women’s 2002 World Team Trials that wrapped up Monday in St. Paul, Minn.

With her finish, Roberts made the Women’s USA national team and will represent the United States in international tournaments.

Roberts lost a 4-2 decision to eventual runner up Tori Adams, then came back for a 10-3 decision over Grace Magnussen, then a 3-2 decision over Tina Arnds for third place.

Women’s wrestling is a growing sport. Nine college teams compete, with more on the way, and there are numerous club teams. Women’s wrestling will be an Olympic sport in 2004. The recent Senior Women’s Nationals was televised on the Oxygen channel.

“I think that some people may have some misconceptions about women’s wrestling,” Roberts said. “They could think a number of things but when they come and see our practice, how hard we work, what we put our selves through to be the best, all the misconceptions disappear. You don’t subject yourself for wrestling for any other reason than because you love it and you want to be the best. Otherwise, you wouldn’t last — you couldn’t.”

For the past month, Roberts has been training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. She practices twice a day, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. and again from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

“At the end of the practices I can hardly walk off the mat because I am so tired,” Roberts said. “To make it more understandable, I lose about four pounds of sweat from so much exertion. It’s great.”

Roberts started wrestling as an eighth- grader at Sacajawea Junior High.

“I love sports and decided that volleyball just wasn’t for me,” Roberts said. “I didn’t want to be left out, so I went for wrestling. I knew that you couldn’t get cut and I thought I would give it a try. After the first week I decided that I really enjoyed it.”

She wrestled at Federal Way High School for coach Mark Cole. She was at 148 pounds in high school and now wrestles at 63 kilograms (138.2 pounds).

“I swam for Federal Way. I went to state but it was never something that I was passionate about,” Roberts said. “I did it so that I could keep in shape for wrestling, which followed the women’s swim season.”

She didn’t make the varsity lineup until her senior year.

“It was difficult to wrestle boys because at that time in my life, they were so much stronger and a lot more technically advanced,” Roberts said. “I think that it would have been less difficult but still difficult to wrestle at a lighter weight class, say 101 instead of 148. At 148, they were for the most part quite solid. I was not at my peak strength-wise and was therefore really giving up a lot. Fortunately, I had my drive to succeed and courage to never give up.”

Roberts said she continues to wrestle against guys because they make great training partners.

“They really toughened me up,” she said. “When I switched to women’s wrestling, I noticed right away women were not as strong. With the strength I gained and the more technical I had become, I started winning a lot more.

“I still work out and train with guys, especially at the Olympic Training Center, even though I don’t wrestle them in competition. They are willing to work out with me to help me improve so I can win. At this level, it is all about winning. Everyone has their sights set on Athens 2004.”

In college, Roberts wrestled for two years at the University of Minnesota-Morris before transferring to Pacific University.

“I enjoy all sports where you don’t rely on other people,” Roberts said. “I love it being me out there, working hard to get all the results. If I am not succeeding, it’s not because of others, it’s because of myself. I love that even though you are an individual out on the mat competing, you are still working for a team win. It is my belief that wrestling is unlike any other sport. Everyone on the team experiences the same exhaustion, and through their support you’re able to get that take-down to win. You learn a lot about yourself and a lot about those on your team. I love everything about wrestling. It is my passion in life. I would not be the person that I am today without it. I know that I can handle any situation that comes my way, no matter how overwhelming it seems at first.”

So what keeps her going through the hours of difficult practices?

“My love for the sport, the wanting to be number one and of course, the Olympic dream,” Roberts said. “I know that it is attainable. I am close, I know that I am a contender and so does everyone else in my weight.”

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