By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Herford holding her own
West Hall female wrestler finding her niche on the wrestling mats
West Hall High School wrestler Laykin Herford, 14, began wrestling this summer. Herford is the team’s only female wrestler. - photo by SARA GUEVARA | The Times
OAKWOOD — Some females compete with males to make a statement, but for West Hall High wrestler Laykin Herford it isn’t about that.

She grew up watching her older brothers — Lloyd who’s 21 and Logan who’s 16 — wrestle.

Lloyd was a state qualifier in each of his four years at West Hall and Spartans’ sophomore Logan qualified for state his freshman season.

While watching, Herford also managed to hold her own in the family living room.

This summer, however — the summer before her freshman year at West Hall — Herford saw and seized an opportunity to take what she’s learned out of the familial confines.

“My brothers told me I should give (wrestling) a shot,” Herford said. “There wasn’t another 103 (pound wrestler) on the team and I’ve always enjoyed watching the sport and thought participating would be fun.”

Her first few days were a struggle, but only because of the conditioning needed to be a wrestler.

“It’s different from any other sport,” Herford said. “You’re using your entire body to the max the entire time. There aren’t any breaks, you can’t call a timeout and there are no substitutes.

“After the first few days, my brothers told me that it couldn’t be a sport I was halfway into. I chose to do it and now I love it.”

Herford won the first match she competed in and has since gone 14-12 this season and went 4-4 in the traditionals competition this past weekend at the Hall County Championships at Flowery Branch High.

The 14-year-old Herford even placed in her first two tournaments of the year, taking fourth at the Creekview Invitational and sixth at the Lithia Springs Invitational.

And now she has her sights set not just on making the state tournament, but being the first girl to place in the state traditionals meet and possibly get a college scholarship.

“She’s got a high work ethic and a lot of natural ability,” West Hall wrestling coach Eric Radich said. “Everyone who sees her wrestle comments on her ability.”

Radich went on to say that some of the comments are made because she’s a girl and there’s an air of surprise, but more times than not — like with the two national level clinicians who over the summer said she was the real deal — it’s because Herford is simply a good wrestler.

She’s even managed to pin more than a few of her opponents this season.

“(Getting a pin) is encouraging,” Herford said. “It shows me and others that I’m not just doing this, but I’m actually good at it.”
And it’s because of that fact, and Herford’s mentality — she gets angry if someone forfeits a match to her — that Radich put her on the team in the first place.

“Her situation is unique because one of her brothers is on the team and the other brother (Lloyd) is a coach for us,” Radich said. “She isn’t just some random girl and, frankly, it’s the random girl whose intentions I’m unsure of, that I’m skeptical of.

“I was apprehensive, I can’t lie about that, but I talked to her family and she has shown so far that she can take (the physicality).”

Along with that, Herford has shown that she can take being treated like one of the guys.

“You can’t coach me differently,” Herford said. “You have to think of me as one of the guys.

“I don’t want to be the girl, I just want to be another wrestler.”

“I treat her like everyone else,” Radich said. “Of course there are going to be guys who go all out because she’s a girl and there are going to be guys that are extremely timid because she’s a girl.

“But at the end of every match, when she walks off the mat, she’s simply a freshman who just competed and needs to learn from it.”
Friends to Follow social media