If you had asked London Houston three years ago what her goal was, she would have said it was to become a wrestling state champion. And she’s done that already — twice.
Now London, a 17-year-old senior, is shooting for much bigger dreams after making the USA Nationals junior and U23 women’s freestyle wrestling teams.
“Every year it’s a new goal. Every year it’s an elevated goal,” London said.
In 2019, London was the 125-pound state champion, and took home the 130-pound state title in 2020. In March, London won the 132-pound High School National Recruiting Showcase title, making her the top recruit in the country.
More recently, she competed in the United World of Wrestling (UWW) women’s freestyle National Championships in Irving, Texas, on May 7-9. At the UWW World Team trials, she took second place in the UWW Junior division (17-20 years old) after winning one of her three finals matches. She made the national team at 59 kg (130 pounds) and she also competed up a weight class in the U23 division, taking third place and making the national team at 62 kg (136 pounds).
“I’m really proud of myself for this past weekend,” London said. “It showed me that age is just a number. If you work hard, you can get where you need to go.”
Next month, London is traveling with Team USA to Mexico City to compete at the Pan-American Championships from June 9-13.
There was a time when she doubted herself and future success.
After her junior year season in March 2020, her club freestyle wrestling season was cancelled because of the pandemic and wiped away her chance at going to nationals last year.
“After state, I really didn’t wrestle for close to five months,” she said. “It took a toll, definitely, on my mentality. It was hard.”
About four months ago in January 2021, London was back to training and tournaments. An elbow injury forced her to forfeit her first tournament back.
“I didn’t know if I still had it,” she said. London healed, continued to train, and relied heavily on the support from her mom, Heide Adams.
Then, she went unscored on and undefeated in all four of her next tournaments.
When she won the national recruitment tournament for the 132-pound weight class, she thought, “Wow, I can do this. It’s been a while, but I still got it,” London said.
As for high school wrestling, the condensed season per Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) scheduling has London skeptical if she’ll compete this year.
In addition to her training sessions at Mat Demon Wrestling Club in Kent every weekday, London balances a part-time job and Running Start classes at Highline College, allowing her to earn an associate’s degree at the same time as her high school diploma. Although, London will miss her high school graduation due to competing at the Pan-Am Championships.
With more than 25 offers from various colleges and universities, London has narrowed down her top five and is planning to announce her decision in the coming weeks.
At first, the jump back into wrestling, the flood of success and top rankings were stressful, and London was cautious to keep her spot at the top.
“Then I started realizing, who cares about rankings? I’m going to have fun with it and work hard and be the same old me. It doesn’t matter if I’m number one or number 10 or number eight — I’m just going to wrestle how London Houston wrestles.”