Alex Elias doesn’t like being the center of attention, but the last two years have put her in an unavoidable spotlight.
Four years ago, she thought high school wrestling was more like WWE. Now, the Rouse senior is the No. 3 ranked wrestler in the 128-weight class and looking to go to the state tournament for the second year in a row.
“I went to a practice and ended up really liking it,” Elias said. “I was expecting throws and flips. It’s a fun sport and it’s easy to learn. It’s a lot of hard work and ever since I started doing it, I can’t stop.”
Elias followed her bother into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu before high school. When she got to Rouse, she didn’t know girls could wrestle but noticed quite a few similarities to Jiu-Jitsu that helped her pick up the sport even quicker.
The first year was a rocky one. Elias lost more matches than she won the first year she wrestled. Plus, in girls’ wrestling there is no junior varsity, so she was competing against the best varsity girls from the start.
“The biggest thing is she’s had the right mental attitude,” head coach Kevin Carter said. “Each day she gets a little stronger and a little more committed, and over the course of three or four years — if you move in that direction — you have a chance to be pretty good.”
At the regional tournament last year, Elias lost her first match and had to battle from the loser’s bracket to move on. After beating the same girls that beat her in the opening round match, she made it to state.
The same thing happened at state. Elias was pinned in the opening match, but once again battled back and won three straight before losing her final two matches in a row to end up with a 6th place finish.
“The first two years of wrestling, I only made it to regionals,” Elias said. “When I finally went to state, I felt like I earned it. I put in so much hard work. I wasn’t worried about going to state, I was just worried about wrestling my next match.”
Rouse has been very successful in athletics the last few years with the girls’ soccer and volleyball teams making the state tournament and the girls’ basketball and baseball teams making deep runs in the playoffs last year.
The Raiders’ wrestling program is just as successful. Including Elias, four Rouse wrestlers made it to the state tournament last year and Dylan Rowling won the first individual state title in school history.
But the anonymity the sport provides helps Elias and the rest of the Raiders stay focused and releases some pressure.
“She has a goal that she says she wants to wrestle like the boys,” Carter said. “What we’ve done over the last two years is wrestle her against the boys in practice. There’s not a boy in her weight that can beat her. She beats them all hands down. It’s not even close.”
If she can get a good scholarship for wrestling, she might continue to do it at the next level. She has 10 different offers that she’s mulling over. But her bigger picture includes graduating college with a degree in architecture.
Going to state was always the goal for Elias, even if she didn’t know that was possible when she first started out.
But that’s not what stands out to her the most.
“It’s like a family,” Elias said. “I know people say that all the time in sports, but wrestling is different because you literally fight with each other like family and wrestle each other but, in the end, you’re always a team.”