Gabby Motz doesn't recall winning a match in her first few years of wrestling competition.
And for a while, Motz was resigned to the fact that she wouldn't ever do anything in the sport.
"I sucked for a while and almost quit," Motz said.
But Motz was urged by her mother to keep pushing and that she was better than she thought. So she took that advice and stuck with wrestling.
That decision has paid dividends as Motz is now flourishing on the mat. The Laingsburg senior, who was voted the LSJ high school athlete of the week winner, is regarded as one of the top girls wrestlers in the state and will be continuing her career next season at Albion College. She entered the week ranked by Michigan Grappler as the state's top-ranked girl in the 110-pound weight class.
The turning point for Motz came in seventh grade when she first got a taste of winning and keeping up with boys on the mat. That has driven her the last several years.
"Everyone loves to win," Motz said. "My coach always says the best feeling is winning a good match. When you win and you keep winning — that's what keeps you going if you're succeeding — especially against boys. There weren't a lot of girls at the time that were actually holding their weight with the boys.
"It was just the fact that I actually started competing with the boys and actually placing that really boosted my confidence in thinking I could actually do this in high school and in college."
The progress from Motz has been steady since. Her success at the varsity level has included top-five finishes at the MYWAY girls finals in the 117 pound weight class the last two seasons. She was third in 2020 and finished fifth last season.
"I just think it's a drastic change (from where I started)," Motz said. "I didn't place at any boys tournaments last year. The first tournament of the season you get out there and place with the boys — it's a big deal. It's really cool to see the progress — even in a year that you make rather than just your whole career."
Motz is driven to finish her high school career strong. She has won her weight class at girls tournaments at Montague and Clinton this season and is eager to keep proving she's one of the state's best girls wrestlers.
"(Winning a state title) is 100% the goal," Motz said. "I have lots of small goals and team goals. Individually a state championship would be pretty nice. I've been close every year and everyone keeps telling me it's your year, it's your year. I think I'm confident I'm going to do it now."
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: Laingsburg's Gabby Motz pushing to end wrestling career with title