By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Add college All-American to Kayla Aggio’s achievements on the wrestling mat.
A top points producer for Oklahoma City University as a freshman, the former Empire wrestler of the year capped her debut season with a third place in the small college national championships.
“That was way better than I expected. I was really happy,” Aggio said. “I feel blessed with the results I had.”
The four-time state prep medalist out of Rancho Cotate high helped Oklahoma City to another stellar season in the Women’s College Wrestling Association. The Stars finished second in team competition at the national finals in Bristol, Tenn., after capturing the title the previous four seasons.
Aggio wrestled most of the year at 143 pounds, though she dropped to the 136 pound class for the national finals, where she went 6-1 in matches. Losing the weight made Aggio a quicker, tougher opponent.
“I felt like I needed to get faster. I was still strong and my technique helped,” Aggio said.
The fine end to a great season was more than Aggio said she could ask for in her first year with national powerhouse Oklahoma City. While she expected to compete well on the college level, Aggio didn’t know she would become one of the top talents on the Stars.
Hard work in conditioning and training with elite teammates has Aggio wrestling better than ever.
“We work real hard. There’s no slacking,” Aggio said. “My teammates are incredible wrestlers. Every day I have to improve to survive practice.”
Aggio thrives in the program that draws top women wrestlers from across the nation.
Training at an elite level demands more running, biking and even swimming in addition to strength training. Aggio said she also cleaned up her diet.
“It’s a little harder here, but it doesn’t kill me,” she said.
Aggio’s improvement as a wrestler includes better technique. More aggressive rather than waiting for opponents to make moves, Aggio is setting up better and winning more as a result.
“I’ve gotten a lot more confident with this team. I’m very motivated to get better,” she said.
Highlights on the season in addition to finishing third at nationals include beating the wrestler who defeated Aggio for the California state high school title a year ago. Aggio handled Amy Spafford, now at Lindenwood University, in Missouri, in a 143-pound match at a tournament in North Dakota.
“I was just nervous and excited. I knew she was there, but I didn’t see her until the match,” Aggio said.
Another highlight was wrestling in Canada, in London, Ontario. The Oklahoma City team took a plane to that tournament, but for many other contests the Stars traveled by bus. The longest ride was the last, 16 hours to the national finals in Bristol, Tenn.
Aggio also has adjusted to Oklahoma’s flat expanses, as well as its snow and wind. Yet the evening skies and sunsets can be brilliant, and people have made her feel very welcome.
School is going well. Aggio is majoring in exercise science with a minor in biology.
“I was very homesick at first,” Aggio said. “The people are very supportive. Our team is like a huge family.”
You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.