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Kalea Loving of Sparkman High proudly displays her certificate and medal for placing sixth and earning All-American status at the High School Nationals Wrestling Tournament held in Virginia. Photo Contributed

Kalea Loving- All-American Wrestler

HARVEST- Sparkman sophomore wrestling sensation Kalea Loving can now lay claim to an even bigger title than she won during the high school wrestling season for the Lady Senators. The 165-pound Alabama High School Athletic Association state champ is now an All-American and earned that honor by partaking in the High School Nationals Wrestling Championships where she finished sixth in the nation.

“It was a good experience against great competition and helped me open my mind to wrestling for the future,” said Loving.

The 17-year old Loving wrestled in seven matches in the 35th annual event held at the Virginia Beach Sport Center in Virginia Beach, Va., winning four and losing three over a three-day tournament placement. The intensity was high, and the caliber of competition was stiff as Loving held her own in the 165-pound division. “I feel like I could have won a couple more of my matches, but I did find out I need a stronger foundation physically and stronger legs will help. My technique and aggression are good, but once I get on this level of competition, I’ll have to do more than what I did.”

Loving made the trip with her mother, Kimberly, and other family members all awhile having some doubt if she would be able to compete. The day before leaving for the 12-hour trek, Loving sprained a knee during practice and her mother rushed her to a chiropractor for adjustments in an attempt to get Loving physically ready for her attempt at the nationals. Packing into their car and leaving the confines of their home at 4:00 a.m., Loving and her entourage made it to the Virginia Beach area just in time for competition weigh-ins.

Her matches began on Friday where she posted two victories by fall. In match one: Fall, 8-2, 3:35 vs. Harley Hunter (WY). In match two: Fall, 7-7, 5:28 vs. Alexia Mangual (NY). On day two, Loving had four matches. In match one: Lost by Fall, 2-0, 0:52 vs. Ugochi Anunobi (MD). Match two: Won by Fall, 1-0, 2:51 vs. Alexa Calidonio (FL). Match three: Won by Decision 7-0 vs. Emily Riopel (SC). Match four: Lost by Decision 2-1 vs. Meghan Wiebe (MA). On day three, one match: Lost by Decision 8-4 vs. Alyssa Guzman (CA).

“I want to get better and grow in this sport,” said Loving, who is also a member of the Sparkman ROTC program. “My love for the sport has grown significantly and I see myself wrestling in college and if I can find a school with scholarships for wrestling, I will certainly go there. I feel I have a good size bag of wrestling moves. I just need to use them in preparation for possibly making it back to nationals next year.”

Loving is the first All-American wrestler from Sparkman High, and with her future already looking to include even more success, the 5-foot-4 athlete who carries a 4.0 grade point average and began wrestling in the eighth grade, can carry her All-American status proudly against any top competition who is willing to step onto the wrestling mat and face a true down-home winner.

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