Athlete of the Week: Lewis Central’s Ava McNeal

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Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 11:12 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Only five years after getting into the sport, Ava McNeal became Lewis Central’s first-ever girl to sign a National Letter of Intent to wrestle in college. Next year the 100-pound wrestler will be representing the Univesity of Sioux Falls on the mat.

”Money was definitely a big part, getting a scholarship and stuff,” said McNeal about choosing to wrestle in college. “And then also my parents really wanted to see me go to college for my sport. And then I think having a friend also commit there, Ady Lundquist, definitely boosted my decision to want to go there.”

“I was glad that she enjoys the sport that much that she wants to take her talents to the next level and showcase them,” said Titans wrestling head coach August Manz.

McNeal’s accomplishment is even more astounding given this is the first year girls high school wrestling is a sanctioned sport in Iowa. The senior was one of the first three girl wrestlers that helped start the team at Lewis Central McNeal’s freshman year. Four years later the top-ranked Titans are the favorites to win the inaugural state tournament.

“I hope it gets really big to where you really have to wrestle people off. This year we really only had one wrestle-off between two girls,” said McNeal. “No one really had to wrestle anyone off. But I think it would be really cool if we had a JV team and then also a girls varsity team.”

Last weekend, McNeal placed first in her weight class to qualify for states after pinning her opponent in the first 36 seconds of the match.

”I like the feeling of winning. It just feels better,” said McNeal.

“100 pounds, smallest weight class, but she has got one of the biggest hearts you will ever see and she wants to do everything she can to help her teammates out and do the best for the team,” said Manz.