Hip surgeries have not slowed down Arkansas prep

Updated: May 16, 2024

Photo:Little Rock Central’s Layne Hattenhauer (back) finished second in the Arkansas state tournament at 115 pounds after undergoing four hip surgeries. 

By Sandy Stevens

Layne Hattenhauer, a 16-year-old sophomore in her very first year of wrestling, finished as the 115-pound runner-up for Little Rock Central High School in the 2024 Arkansas State Championships.

Impressive, you say?

You have no idea.

Not only was it Layne’s first time taking on a contact sport; it was her first time to complete a full season in any sport. 

And last year she underwent four hip surgeries, leaving her unable to walk for a total of four months.

“I never got to complete a full season because of injuries,” Layne explained. “I’d get injured in the middle of the season, and I’d have to take a month off.”

It wasn’t that she didn’t try. At the private junior high she attended, she took up volleyball, cross country, basketball and track, sometimes with two squads’ practices overlapping on the same day. She pole vaulted in the 2021 Junior Olympics. She’s also had about eight years of competitive swimming in the summer. 

“I’ve always been someone who enjoys competing,” she said, noting that she once ran with two torn hamstrings and another time with a torn labrum.

Classmates sometimes bullied her, claiming she was faking injuries. 

“There are a lot of insecure middle schoolers,” she observed.

Two days after starting her freshman year at Little Rock Central, Layne underwent her first hip surgery.

She was diagnosed as an infant with congenital hip dysplasia, but the condition caused no problems until she took up sports in junior high. 

“My mom would bring it up with specialists and physical therapists, but they all said that (the problem) was taken care of when I was an infant,” Layne said.

Then shortly before she started her freshman year, X-rays taken at the Little Rock Children’s Hospital once again showed the dysplasia … in both hips and she was referred to a specialist three hours away in Memphis.

Thus began four operations called a periace tabular osteotomy, which involves cutting the pelvis and changing the angle of the hip socket so the femoral head fits more securely. In between the surgeries, Layne would return to school in a wheelchair.

“If I had not had those surgeries, I probably would have needed hip replacements in my 20s or 30s,” Layne said.

As soon as she could, Layne started physical therapy, undertook a lifting class at Central and started lessons at Pat Smith’s Arkansas Wrestling Academy.

“Sprawling, learning how to shoot — it was bizarre with new hips,” Layne recalled. “With wrestling, there’s an awkward phase and conditioning you have to go through. Not being  able to do these things (before) was really new for me, but I knew it was something I wanted.”

The daughter of Wallace and Kristi Hattenhauer and sister to Brett, an eighth-grader, Layne is also a caregiver for 12 “mostly rescue” animals: four dogs, three cats, two Australian white tree frogs, two crested geckos, and a ball python. 

Not surprisingly, she’s beginning to consider a career in the health or medical fields, possibly even marine biology or veterinary medicine.

At Little Rock, a school of about 2,500 students, Layne is a member of the National Art Honors Society, Beta Club and the Beekeeping Club. A week following the states, she ran a scoring table at the youth state championships.

Through it all, Layne gives credit to her coaches and teammates. 

On the finalist’s questionnaire before her state championship match, she wrote, “Central’s team is the reason I’m here.”

She later explained, “We are so united as a team. Everyone just supports each other. We compete as a team rather than as all individuals, and it’s not just teammates, it’s friends.

“The coaches are incredible,” she added. “They push me to be the person and wrestler I am.”

(Sandy Stevens is a long-time public-address announcer of national and international events and was named to the National Hall of Fame in 1998.)