Dutton Willard's first girl to win state in wrestling

Steve Chapman

Catherine Dutton is the first girl at Willard High School to bring home a state wrestling championship.

Catherine Dutton, a 17-year-old senior attending Willard High School made history on Saturday, Feb. 25, when she brought home the 235 Class 2 State Wrestling Championship. Dutton is the first girl at WHS to win a state wrestling title.

Dutton loves wrestling community
Dutton has been wrestling for seven years. She said she certain circumstances led her to start wrestling at age 10.
“(My) only choices were wrestling and soccer, and I hated running, so I chose wrestling,” she said.
Since then, however, Dutton said she has fallen in love with the sport, mainly because of the sense of community between those involved, as well as the way she feels after a match.
“It's just like an insane family bond that you get (that’s) like no other sport,” she said. “I've done so many sports throughout my life, and there's just nothing else that compares. Yes, in every sport, there's winning, and winning feels good in every sport, but wrestling is so difficult that it feels like so much more to me. And so, it's like something that makes (me) feel so accomplished in myself, whether I win or lose it, because I've completed something so hard just by showing up.”

Mind, as well as body, must be conditioned
As a wrestler, Dutton does plenty of physical conditioning, including cardio and weightlifting, but she also conditions her mind as well.
“Coach (Jeff) Davis has got us into mindset training which … is something that I've started to implement,” she said, “(because it has) become super helpful.”
Dutton said the training has helped her perform at a level on the mat like she never imagined.
“(The instructor) teaches us … how to be confident in ourselves and how to keep a routine and how to push yourself through hard moments to help you get through the tough parts of wrestling.”
The training, Dutton said, taught her to think like a “predator” instead of “prey,” or in other words, someone who knows they are in control of the situation versus someone whose fear controls them.

Mindset training made difference at state
Dutton said it made the difference between whether she would have come in first or second at state competition.
“Last year, my junior year, I lost the state finals, so going in the state finals this year, I was way beyond terrified,” she said. “I was like, ‘What if I repeat last year? What if I end my senior year on a loss?’ All these things were running through my head, and I stopped and I thought (about) what he had told us to say our very first day of mindset training. He (said), ‘You have prey thoughts, and you have predator thoughts, and which one you going to let run your mind?’ I was like, ‘These are prey thoughts.’”
As she prepared to face her opponent, Dutton took control of her mindset and “flipped” her mind around as she began thinking “predator” thoughts.
“I just started thinking like, ‘I have put in the work for this. I want this way more than she does. I don't care how much she wants it; I definitely want it more, and there is no one else in the state of Missouri who has worked harder than me to get to the things I want.’”

Victory shows what is possible with hard work and determination
Dutton said she hopes that, in winning the state title, she has demonstrated that girls can be champions in wrestling and in other aspects of life as well.
“I think it shows them … you really can do what you put your mind to,” she said, “and if you really do work for things that there will be people eventually who will stick by your side. Whether it takes 40 coaches, or it takes two or takes one, or it takes 40 practice partners, or you just get lucky with your first one, someone will be there to help you. Even if it's not your parents, or it's not your coach, there will be someone at some point on the line. And sometimes you just have to push yourself through, but it will all be worth it in the end.”
After high school, Dutton plans to go to college and study exercise science while she continues wrestling through her college career. From there, she said she hopes to become a college-level athletic trainer.


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