From daddy's little girl to state champion warrior, Swift has earned her titles
Pratt High School's girls wrestling team took second at the second-ever KSHSAA-sanctioned state wrestling tournament for girls last weekend in Salina. Greenback junior Livia Swift earned a state title for the second year in a row in class 4A, making history as the first high school girls wrestling competitor in Kansas to accomplish that feat.
"I am very excited to be part of the era that has sanctioned girls wrestling at state," Swift said. "I definitely want to be a three-timer, if possible."
Last year, Swift won the title in the 143 lb. weight catagory, defeating Kammie Schanz from Mulvane. This year, also at 143 lbs., Swift brought her mental game into play to defeat Kaydawn Haag from Ellis, a freshman she had matched up with three previous times this season, going 1-2 in competition.
At sub-state just the week prior, Haag defeated Swift to take the sub-state title.
Swift, who said she hates losing, was not about to get beat by Haag again and spent hours studying her competition on tape and preparing her mental game for state.
"I knew that I could do this," Swift said. "I watched where she has scored on me in the past and saw how I gave her the momentum to do that. I just had to mentally prepare to not give her those openings and it worked."
Watching and learning has been part of Swift's mental game since the beginning of her wrestling career at the age of five.
"I had an older brother who wrestled and I loved going to his tournaments every Saturday and watching him compete," Swift said. "My dad was his coach and I just loved that atmosphere, with all those families there, and everyone so invested in what was going on. It was great and I just wanted to be part of all that."
Never mind that, in the beginning, Swift was a girl and had to wrestle in boys' divisions because there weren't girls sanctions.
"I started on the mat when I was five, and when you are all that young, it really doesn't matter," Swift said. "It was probably harder on my dad, because he was my coach and he hated to see his little girl get beat up. But I learned a lot.
One of the most important lessons Swift learned in the early years has carried her forward to current state champion status.
"I learned you never give up," she said. "Each period is only six minutes long, and you can last that long if you just persevere and look for an opening. It's not over until the whistle blows, so just keep going until then."
Swift said a memorable moment was when she was in 8th grade and wrestling for Pratt Middle School. She was up against an 8th grade boy from Larned who was incredibly tough.
"He was much stronger than me and kept me on my back almost the whole first period," she said. "I was so tired, but in the last period he thought he had it won and let up, I reversed and pinned him, just like that. I was exhausted but the feeling of winning in that situation was so rewarding. If something is tough, just ride it out. Don't ever give up."
On Monday, Swift was still exhausted from her weekend of state competition.
"I am completely tired. My voice is gone from yelling so much for my teammates," she said. "But it's a good feeling. I would always rather be completely tired out and know I gave it all I had, than to wonder if I could have done more."
Swift said that being part of a team like the one Pratt High School has had this year is also the best part of wrestling.
"Wrestling creates a mindset that you can't get from any other sport. It's tough, and as teammates, we are always there to help each other out and pick each other up," she said.
Swift said she plans to rest, relax, hang out with her friends and play Candy Crush on her phone for three days. Then it will time to get back to work, this time as part of the Pratt High School softball team.
Swift, who also plays volleyball in addition to wrestling and softball participation, said she would like to wrestle in college after high school, and maybe pursue a teaching career after that, with options to coach her favorite sports.
"I'm just glad for this moment," Swift said. "I am proud of all of us. We represented Pratt well at state."