Athlete of the Week: Tecco takes talent to college level

sjwrestle-teccoSome were surprised when St. James High senior Mackenzie Tecco became the first female wrestler in school history to sign a college scholarship earlier this month, but not Tecco. The accomplishment has been her goal since the first time she stepped onto the mat.

“I remember back when I first started and I won my first match I was so excited,” said Tecco, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week after signing with King University in Bristol, TN. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to wrestle in college one day. I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Tecco spent the past decade working toward that goal. She first got interested in the mostly male sport when older brother Kyle started wrestling at St. James. She tagged along at practices and matches until she got the golden opportunity with an unlikely wrestling partner.

“I used to go watch my brother practice and I was like, ‘Wow, that looks like a lot of fun’,” Tecco recalled. “They had one female on the team and she was an exchange student named Karena. She didn’t have anyone to practice with so she and I started working together and it really helped me.”

Soon Tecco was ready to wrestle with the big boys, and she more than held her own throughout her high school and club career. She won three national titles as a member of the Grand Strand Wrestling Club, where she worked on wrestling year-round, and helped the Sharks until a shoulder injury sidelined her for her senior season.

“I’ve always loved physical sports. I’ve played hockey and football and lacrosse, but wrestling was always my favorite,” Tecco said. “I like the factor that it’s just you out there on the mat so everything is on you, and it’s really all about how hard you push yourself. You get out if it how much you put in.”

Tecco eventually earned the respect of her male competitors and helped make females more accepted in the sport by proving herself on the mat. But she has had to deal with some less-than-welcoming opponents over the years who sought to embarrass her on the mat. Instead, the opposite happened.

“It was crazy at first but it’s not as bad now because people know me,” Tecco remembered. “I had guys who would try to pull my singlet off of me just to be mean, but it got better when I started beating people. If I’ve done anything I hope it’s that people treat girls better these days.”

Tecco now gets the chance to break more unchartered territory as a college wrestler. She recently visited the campus and was received exactly the way she wants to be – like another one of the guys. If not, they might find out what other past opponents have learned the hard way: Tecco is a wrestler.

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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