Junior Haylee McGrew led the Ankeny girls’ wrestling team to a fourth-place finish in the Dan Gable Donnybrook on Thursday and Friday at Xtream Arena in Coralville.
McGrew placed second at 155 pounds. She currently boasts an 11-1 record.
Here is some inside info on McGrew:
What was your goal going into the tournament? Did you think you had a chance to win the title?
I definitely believed I had a shot at making it to the finals, so my goal going into the tournament was to give it what I got and walk out with the title.
You won your first three matches by fall, including one in just 18 seconds. Do you feel like you’re going to get a pin every time you step on the mat?
I believe it’s every wrestler’s goal to get the pin.
In the finals, you were pinned by Zoey Barber of Omaha (Neb.) Westside in 2:51. Did you know anything about her before the match, and what made her so tough?
I didn’t know anything about her, but I kind of know her sister. Girls who have more years of technique and experience in wrestling can make for more challenging matches, but those are also the ones I learn the most from.
You told me over the weekend that you made some mistakes that you’ll take back with you to the wrestling room. What do you think you need to improve on?
I feel there are things I can always improve on from all my matches but in my finals match, I made some offensive and defensive mistakes that made a change in the outcome.
Your team had six top-eight finishes in the 43-team tournament. What did you think of your squad’s performance?
I think we all went out, gave it what he had and put up a heck of a fight. I’m proud to be a part of this team and the accomplishments we’re making!
Do you play any other sports, or have you in the past?
I was a competitive and elite gymnast for 10 years prior to wrestling. When I gave up gymnastics I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something. My dad suggested wrestling and at first I had no interest and I told him “No, absolutely not.” He told me to just go and try it out. Unfortunately, it was my freshman year and the season was almost over by this time, but they let me come anyway. Coach (Dustin) Roland asked if I wanted to go and try girls’ state and I said, “Sure, why not?” I went 2-2 after just two months into wrestling. Last season was my first season that I got to fully experience wrestling, and that’s when I knew it’s what I wanted to do.
You posted a 31-4 record as a sophomore, when you placed seventh in the state tournament at 155 while competing for Des Moines Public Schools. What brought you to Ankeny?
We moved to Ankeny over the summer because of my parents’ jobs and better schools.
Did you know very many of the girls on the team, and if not, did they welcome you to the team with open arms?
I didn’t know anyone, but they were very welcoming and super nice.
What do you think of coach Roland’s coaching style?
I already knew him from Des Moines Lincoln, and he is the first one who believed in my potential and has always stayed supporting me. So I was excited when my parents told us we were moving to Ankeny, and I looked forward to wrestling for Roland again since he’s such a good coach.
Goals for the rest of the season?
My goals for the rest of the season are to keep developing better technique, make as many memories as possible, and be a state finalist.