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(Editor’s Note: As USA Wrestling uses several phases of World Team Trials over seven weeks to determine the wrestlers who will compete in the FILA Worlds in September, this is the first in a series of features that will give fans an inside look at the stories of wrestlers who earned a spot on the 2014 United States World Team.)
By Mike Finn
When Alyssa Lampe was pinned by Victoria Anthony in the second of three Championship Series bouts at this year’s World Team Trial for women’s freestyle in Madison, the Wisconsin native might have handled that setback differently than nearly ten years ago as a senior at Tomahawk High School.
“It was a little bit of a blow to my ego,” admitted Lampe, the 2012 and ’13 World bronze medalist who came back to defeat Anthony, 5-0, in the deciding bout that earned Lampe a spot on this year’s U.S. World Team at 48 kilograms (105.5 pounds). “I have been confident the whole time. I had to say, ‘let that one go, recover and win the third (match).’”
Coincidentally, these three bouts against Anthony — Lampe won the first match, 10-6, before getting stuck in 3:54 of the second Championship bout — marked the first time Lampe wrestled in Madison since she made state of Wisconsin history by finishing second in the boys’ state tournament in 2006.
“It was awesome,” said Lampe, who especially liked the fact that many fans stayed to the final buzzer in the final match of Day 1, May 31, in the first phase of the 2014 World Team Trials. “It was great to be back in my home state. I heard people cheering for me.”
But the 26-year-old Lampe, whose hometown is located 200 miles north of the state’s capitol city, said she might not have handled her loss to Anthony — whom Lampe dominated in this year’s U.S. Open to earn an automatic spot in the Trials’ Championship Series — as well when she was a prep.
“I am a lot more confident,” said Lampe. “The result of our second match would have devastated me before, but I’ve grown and matured and was able to come back from a match like that and win.”
Lampe, who was also a member of the 2010 U.S. World Team, certainly has grown a lot since the days she was considered a “pioneer for women’s wrestling” when she reached the Wisconsin state finals eight years ago.
“I think about the girls in Wisconsin when I was wrestling and there were like 10 girls wrestling,” said Lampe, who downplays the fact that she made history then because it led to very awkward moments.
“People used to say things and bum me out like it’s not really fair because if a guy wins, he should and if he loses, he ‘lost to a girl’,” said Lampe. “It was a lose-lose situation for them. I felt bad for the guys.
“There were some times when I’d say, ‘why am I doing this? I’m good at other sports too.”
But Lampe did stick with wrestling and first attended the United States Olympic Education Center at the University of Northern Michigan before she made Colorado Springs and the U.S. Training Center her home and now is ranked No. 5 in the world.
“I always felt that if I could win domestically at 48 (kilograms), I’d have a good chance at winning a World medal,” Lampe said.
She also believes winning gold this September at the Worlds in Uzbekistan and maybe gold in Rio (at the 2016 Olympics) will assure her she made the right decision to stick with wrestling.
“I think so,” said Lampe, who then soon smiled. “Yeah … it will.”