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Brynn Swyres

From Cheerleader to Champion

By Barry Engelhardt

“I love this town. It’s where I’ve had a lot of life experiences, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

While Vandalia sophomore Brynn Swyres dreamed of being a high school cheerleader, wrestling has also been an essential aspect of her life. Brynn and her brother are only one year apart, and just as she was interested in becoming a cheerleader, he gravitated to wrestling. Being so close in age, she spent countless hours tagging along at wrestling practices and tournaments.

“I started tumbling at four years old because I always wanted to be a high school cheerleader. That was always my dream. My brother took up wrestling, so I’ve always been around it, but I was never willing to give up my dream of being a cheerleader. But I got to high school my freshman year, and it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” shares Brynn.

While her brother, Dominic Swyres, found success, finishing third in the state championship meet each of the last two years, Brynn desired something new. She started considering wrestling but admits that her friends initially thought she was joking. Her parents were also hesitant initially, but they eventually came around.

“I was like, ‘Dad, wouldn’t it be cool if your daughter wrestled, too’,” laughs Brynn. She describes herself as “soft and not super aggressive” in nature and playfully admits her parents teased her, suggesting that she’d “never survive out there.”

As the initial shock wore off, Brynn’s parents became intrigued, and she began to contemplate making the change more seriously. During Dominic’s most recent state tournament, their father discussed the subject with other parents, many of whom knew Brynn. These parents quickly encouraged the idea, expressing confidence she’d love the sport.

Brynn quickly transitioned from a supportive sister and casual observer to a teammate and competitor. She says the transition was difficult but worthwhile. “It was really a rough start,” admits Brynn. “I was just wrestling boys at JV tournaments. I’ve just climbed the ladder since then.”

Over the last three weeks, Brynn has competed in her first three girls’ wrestling tournaments. She suggests that, on par, wrestling against girls or boys are very different experiences, suggesting that boys are often stronger, whereas girls are more flexible. This distinction often changes their style.

Competing in her first girl’s tournament, she earned second, and the experience provided a mental shift. “I was like, woah, this is crazy,” laughs Brynn. She went on to win her next tournament, defeating an opponent who had easily defeated her earlier in the year. When Brynn and I spoke, she had just finished her third tournament in as many weeks, taking first place. This tournament happened to be a regional tournament and therefore, she will advance to compete in the sectional tournament, wrestling in the one-hundred-forty-pound weight class.

“There’s more pressure on me to do well now. I was just on the bottom a couple of weeks ago,” says Brynn. “Wherever I go, I’ll be happy with it. This year, my only goal was to make it to sectionals. Now there’s a chance of me winning.”

Brynn sees herself as a risk taker, living by the nothing-ventured-nothing-gained mentality. Despite being four-foot-eleven, she laughs and shares that she tried the high jump while running track, only to realize it wasn’t an event designed for short people. But neither is playing front row in volleyball, yet that’s precisely where she plays.

Looking past sectionals and even high school, Brynn will continue to seek life’s adventures. “I love this town. It’s where I’ve had a lot of life experiences, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I also want to go out and see the rest of the world,” says Brynn. After high school, she’s contemplating joining the National Guard or pursuing a career in welding. She hopes to travel throughout the United States and craves warm weather. More than anything, she longs for what she describes as getting her “life started.”

“I like to take a lot of chances that others wouldn’t take. I think wrestling shows that,” concludes Brynn with a proud smile.

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