Rifle High’s Keaton Long wins girls state wrestling title
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
STRASBURG, Colorado ” If your last name is Long and you live in Rifle, chances are high that you’re a wrestler.
Six of Wayne Long’s seven children, males and females alike, currently wrestle or have wrestled at some time in the past.
Rifle High School junior Keaton Long is no exception, and she’s blazing quite the trail for herself in what, at least in Colorado, is still primarily a guys’ sport.
Long topped all comers to take home the 147-pound weight class title from the March 8 USWGWA Colorado Girls Wrestling State Championship at Strasburg High School.
And Long did it in dominant fashion, pinning Angie Beazer from Westminster in five minutes in her semifinal match and taking down Alexandria Davis from Thornton by tech fall (16-1) in the final to win her fifth state title in six years.
It’s no surprise Long developed an affinity for wrestling growing up considering it’s pretty much a household thing.
“It felt pretty normal since I have three older brothers who wrestled and my dad was a coach,” she said. ” I’ve just done it all my life. It’s what I do.”
One of Long’s older brothers, Tim, won a state title for Rifle High School in 2007. Her other brother Jesse was a three-time state placer. Her dad was a state qualifier at Eagle Valley back in the day. Her older sister Tayler and older brother Nick wrestled, and her middle-school aged sister, Matti, is a wrestler.
On top of doing open tournaments like the girls state meet, Keaton has three years on the Rifle High School team already under her belt. Since female wrestlers in Colorado are still somewhat rare, the majority of her high school competition is against boys. That helps tremendously come state tourney time, she noted.
“I’m used to wrestling in a mostly real stacked weight,” Long explained. “It’s not an easy weight when it comes to guys. When you’re wrestling mostly guys and you switch to wrestling girls, it’s like wrestling down. Girls are not usually as competitive as the guys.”
She hopes to see that change.
“Girls wrestling is a building process,” Long said. “It’s a lot bigger in California and Texas, places like that. You didn’t used to have girls wrestling in college. There used to be no girls wrestling in Colorado. It’s growing.”
Long hopes to wrestle collegiately once her high school days are up. She’s not sure where she’ll end up, but there are only so many schools with girls wrestling programs.
“Most are toward the east,” she said, “like in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.”
Until then, Keaton’s is simply enjoying the sport she loves, the sport she’s been immersed since she was 4 years old.
“Wrestling teaches you a lot more [than other sports],” she said. “For guys, it teaches you how to be a man. For me, it teaches me to be a better person. You just get more out of it.”
Just don’t act surprised whenever Long beats a boy, which she’s done a number of times.
“Everyone’s all excited whenever I win or anything,” she said. “I don’t know. I just try to take it like I’m anyone else wrestling. I’m not anyone special.”
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