FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) While Janice Dykes' wrestling journey was not fluid, her accomplishments along the way paved a lane for her to continue wrestling while receiving an education.
Dykes, a member of the 2019 Girl’s State Champion North Pole Patriots, has signed her National Letter of Intent to compete at Division II's Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Dykes began wrestling in middle school before taking some time away from the sport. She decided to wrestle again her junior year, where she eventually became a state champion with the Patriots.
Although Dykes did not get a chance to visit the campus, she had been in communication with Gannon Girl’s Wrestling Coach Christen Dierken and was confident it was the right decision.
"It was either between Gannon or Southern Oregon and just talking to the coach and being in contact with her for months, I knew it was the right decision," Dykes said. "The coach was telling me a lot about the school and the majors they have. I got in contact with other teammates who are already on the team and we have been talking since."
Dykes placed third in the 125-pound division at the state championships in Anchorage last December. The North Pole Girls Wrestling program was ranked 14th in the country in a poll conducted by USA Wrestling, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and FloWrestling.
Girls wrestling in the Interior has flourished in recent years, much in part to the success of the North Pole program.
"When I was in middle school there were barely any girls, but now in my senior year, there are so many that you can only take two per region to state, so that is pretty cool, having full brackets.” Dykes said of the growth of girls wrestling.
Dykes was the lone senior on the girl’s team this year, where she developed leadership traits as one of the team captains.
"We chose her as a team captain this year because she was always in the room working hard and showing what it took to be a great wrestler," Patriots Girl’s Wrestling Coach Junior Lambert said.
"You could really see between her sophomore and junior year that she really wanted to it and once she put her mind to it, she was a different person, a different wrestler," Lambert added. "We are very proud of her and she represented our school very well and hopefully she continues to so."
Along with leadership, wrestling has taught Dykes other characteristic traits that can help her beyond the mat.
"Self-discipline definitely, and just always going for what you want and working hard because six minutes is not a lot of time to like show what you have, but you put in so much work to get that moment."
Dykes says she hopes to become and All-American while at Gannon and plans to study exercise science.
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