Sports Spotlight: South Lenoir wrestler Gracie Elliott battles back from shoulder injury to return to the mat

Elliott competed in the Super 32 Challenge national meet in October
Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 6:51 PM EST
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SWANSBORO, N.C. (WITN) - Girls wrestling is working to become a sanctioned high school sport. It would stand alone from the boys. Currently girls do wrestle against the boys during the high school season. South Lenoir’s Gracie Elliott wrestles who ever is next.

We feature her in this week’s Pepsi Sports Spotlight.

“I went with my brother to our club practice in Wilmington. I was like that looks kind of fun so my brother was like come out here and wrestle with me,” says South Lenoir junior Gracie Elliott, “I wouldn’t wrestle with anyone but my brother. After that me and my brother would.”

For South Lenoir junior wrestler Gracie Elliott, wrestling practice happened with big brother often.

“Me and my brother would wrestle every time we went to practice,” says Elliott, “That’s just kind of how I got into it.”

Wrestling at practice and at home.

“Can take a couple hits to the face and be ok now,” says Gracie.

Gracie followed her big brother onto the Blue Devils wrestling team.

“Undoubtedly the best wrestler as a girl and you can rank her with the guys too,” says South Lenoir head coach Carlos Dodd, “She’s an outstanding athlete. Freshman year she tied for 3rd in the state for the girls tournament.”

Wrestling in high school though required Gracie to also wrestle against boys

“With Gracie it’s easy,” says Dodd, “She makes it easy as far as s he’s going to put in the same effort they do.”

Wrestling girls and boys takes two different tactics.

“I love wrestling girls more than I do boys because we are even. We are the same size and strength and everything,” says Elliott, “When I wrestle guys I have to change my game up a little bit. Just because I can’t power the, I have to be really good technique-wise. I just have to, my stamina, my cardio has to be better than them.”

Gracie’s career got derailed with a shoulder injury late in her first season which required surgery. It cost her her sophomore year.

“The mental aspect of it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. Just not being able to do what I love,” says Gracie, “being in a brace for so long, having to rebuild my shoulder back was definitely hard.”

After months of rehab, Elliot got back on the mat this fall. She even got to compete at the Super 32 Challenge in October.

“Top 32 wrestlers in the nation,” says Gracie, “It’s freestyle for girls so it’s a different style than we wrestle in high school. It’s one of the biggest, most important events you can wrestle in high school. I went 2 and 2. I ran into a couple studs, but, I will be back next year.”

Gracie did have a set back with her shoulder today, she hopes it’s ok, and still has big dreams for her future.

“Wrestle in college, hopefully wrestle for the world team,” says Elliott, “and after that we will see what I do. Let everything fall into place and let God take over.”

Gracie wrestling at Swansboro Tuesday with about 40 other girls in different weight classes. An all girls individual wrestling tournament. The first of its kind in the east.

“Extremely excited the girls program has the National Federation of High Schools starting in 2023,” says wrestling official Walter Scott, “I’m also proud that Swansboro high is the first in eastern North Carolina to host a women’s competition tournament.”

“New to the east in particular. It’s starting to grow big,” says coach Carlos Dodd, “That’s one of the biggest things having tournament here in Swansboro. It’s a big thing for the girls getting to do something in the east because we don’t have one basically this side of 95.”

If girls wrestling gets sanctioned here it would make it like golf, tennis or soccer with boys and girls having separate seasons and tournaments.

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