Van Buren girls wrestler Addison Loney bursts onto wrestling scene
Addison Loney had a tough start for her journey.
As an eighth grader, she was late for her first wrestling practice. She couldn't locate the right door. Loney called Van Buren coach John Petree crying.
Entering the practice room, she saw more than a dozen guys staring as she tried to compose herself, but she cried a bit more.
"She got roughed up, but at the same time, she could hold her own," Petree said. "You don't see that with girls wrestling against boys, and over the last two years, she's a beast."
The junior was paired up with Trevor Edelen, who recently earned his 100th win as a Pointer.
"He beat up on me for about a week," Loney said. "But I'm thankful because now I'm better, and I survived that very traumatic first day. All the other wrestlers were great, and I ended up with like 20 big brothers."
Loney was the first girl to join the wrestling team. Arkansas didn't have a sanctioned girls tournament that year, and this season was the first for schools to have a girls wrestling team.
"All the teachers ... all the people who don't know me, now know me as the 'girl who wrestles,'" Loney said. "My mom would introduce me, 'this is my daughter, who won the state wrestling title' even when we meet strangers."
Loney won the first-ever girls' state title last season in the 140 weight class after pinning Mountain Home senior Trinity Willett in a time of 1:10.
"That was a big moment. I just remember getting the pin and then jumping up and screaming," she said.
She challenged herself and dropped to the 124 weight class and has gone 24-0 this season with only a "couple" of matches going into the second period. One of those matches was at Bentonville, where Loney pinned the defending Class 6A state champion Casey Kanaday.
"It doesn't matter if she's going up against a girl or a boy, she comes in here every day and works to get better," Petree said. "She also makes the rest of us better because of the way she gets after it."
In her second season, Violet Summers and Lillian Jones joined the team and now there's 10.
"I love all the girls, and they're learning so fast," Loney said. "I feel like I'm taking on the mom role now because I'm like 'does everyone have their shoes? Their headgear? We need to get going.' I would then take them to our corner and go over what we have to do."
The 5A West tournament is Saturday in Greenwood, and the Class 5A Girls State Tournament will be held at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock on Thursday.
"I think we can do really well. There are only 10 weight classes in the girls division, and I think we can win three or four of those," Petree said. "If you can get four, you have pretty good odds to win the tournament."
Other Van Buren Wrestlers
Violet Summers and Lillian Jones (100, 108). Both could wrestle at 100, but one will be at 100 and the other at 108. Summers is 12-2 and Jones is 8-0. Summers won the 100 state title after her opponent was disqualified for biting.
Grace Burns (116). She had her first takedown in a recent match and finished fourth at a Conway meet.
Addison Loney (124). 24-0. Returning state champ.
Alexis Schmotzer and Cassidy Pledger (132). Both are freshmen.
Danielle Archer (150). Only senior on the squad.
Samantha Vasquez (165). Despite being the biggest wrestler, she's just a freshman.