Committed to Wrestling: Becoming a Champion


Elijah Ratliff (‘23) holding the biggest smile while celebrating his 100 wins!

“I [feel] like a failure.” So many athletes think these words at least once in their career, maybe more than once. Failing to achieve a goal while playing the sport they love can crush an athlete’s mental/physical health, and senior wrestler, Elijah Ratliff, understands that feeling more than most. 

Ratliff started wrestling in the seventh grade, but never really saw himself continuing with wrestling, especially throughout high school. However, to his surprise, he is now six years strong in his wrestling career even though his initial purpose was to keep himself in shape for basketball. Despite that, some of the coaches noticed his talent and gave him a different perspective on wrestling. 

“I came together with some of the basketball coaches and decided to give this kind of a shot, and by giving it a shot, I just followed through the whole way with it,” Ratliff said.

While Ratliff entered high school not very committed to wrestling, he met a friend he can proudly call his “mentor” who inspired him to view wrestling in a different light. Nick Matusko, a senior during Ratliff’s freshman year, gave him a different perspective and helped him grow a love for wrestling. 

“He was someone I looked up to, and he reached out to me and took me under his wing,” Ratliff stated. 

Growing his commitment and love for wrestling, Ratliff pushed himself and aspired to great goals. However, as it is with any sport, hard work, and talent do not always guarantee a win.

“Sophomore year it was my main goal to take it to the regional tournament,” Ratliff recapped. “That is all I trained for all through covid. I had to win one more match. I ended up losing by three or four points and I was crushed mentally. I felt like a failure.”

While this loss initially hurt Ratliff, it motivated him to keep working hard for the next season. With that extra push, Ratliff qualified for states last year and hasn’t stopped winning yet.