Humans of BHS: Presley Givens

Junior Presley Givens shares her wrestling experience.

Junior Presley Givens wins a match at last year’s state wrestling championship.

Photo Courtesy Presley Givens

Junior Presley Givens wins a match at last year’s state wrestling championship.

Deeya Rohant, Staff Writer

Before 2018, only six states in the US had sanctioned a girls wrestling state championship. Since then, 25 new states have sanctioned their own championships, including Arkansas.

Junior Presley Givens first heard about the school’s wrestling team three year ago when a classmate was sharing their good thing and mentioned wrestling tryouts. Givens wanted to give wrestling a try, so she found the coach and asked if she could try out.

“I was really worried at first, because I didn’t know how I was gonna like it, but once I started, it was just something that I fell in love with and have continued with,” Givens said.

When Givens tried out, there were no other girls on the team.

“I was very nervous, because we didn’t have any girls. I tried to recruit girls, but no one wanted to do it, so I just kinda had to wrestle with boys for a while,” Givens said.    

When Givens began wrestling, she didn’t have as many opportunities to wrestle as the boys did because there weren’t as many girls competing. The biggest bracket during Givens’ freshman year was 16 people, but last year that was the size of the smallest female bracket. 

“It has grown a lot. In fact, I was on the first female national team from Arkansas to go and represent at nationals, and it was really amazing, because it showed that if a small state like Arkansas can get a team together, then other schools can too, and other teams and other states,” Givens said.

Several colleges in Arkansas have womens’ wrestling programs, such as Lyon College, the University of the Ozarks, and the University of Arkansas Little Rock club team.

“I feel like Arkansas is doing very well overall, as far as girls wrestling and boys wrestling. We’re having several very good wrestlers come out of the state of Arkansas. Arkansas has their D1 program at UALR, which is doing very well this season,” Givens said.

As of right now, there are six girls on Bryant’s wrestling team, including Givens. The team has gained some new members this year, and they almost have a full team, but they’re still trying to get the word out.

“I’d like to get the word out so more people know about wrestling, because right now I talk to people and they’re like ‘oh, I didn’t know we had a wrestling team,’” Givens said.

Givens also wrestles outside of school and loves the team aspect of wrestling.

“Even though it’s an individual sport, we’re all a team. We all do the bus rides together and it’s the best time, and the best feeling ever is like when you win a match, or even if you lose, your teammates always care for you. They always make sure you have what you need. I know it’s very cliche, but it’s basically a family,” Givens said.

Givens’ teammates not only support her emotionally, but also during matches. They have a different perspective of the match than she does, so they can yell at her to make more strategic moves than she would’ve originally done.

“They see things you can’t see. Like if you’re in a match and you think you feel something and you try to go for it but it doesn’t work, they can help you by shouting out what to do.”

Givens’ family has also supported her with wrestling.

“My dad has always been like my outside coach, and he’s really helped me a lot. My mom, she helps me stay on top of things, like if I feel bad or something, she’ll help me recover, and we go on runs together and stuff like that.”

With wrestling being a disciplined sport, wrestlers have to work to stay in shape and be consistent with their exercise to improve their qualities.

“She has really bought into getting stronger this year, and it has really helped her during her matches,” said Shane Clancy, the head wrestling coach.

Wrestling has also changed Givens’ mindset towards life.

“It’s made me mentally stronger because before when I would lose a match, it was just because I gave up, but then I realized if you want to win and you want to continue, you have to keep fighting and you have to push through, and it’s that mentality like ‘ok, this sucks but I have to keep going. I can rest later.’”

When she’s wrestling, Givens tries her hardest to keep pushing, even if she wants to quit, because in a 6-minute match, things can change quickly.

“Just don’t give up. Anything can happen at any time, you just can’t give up. You can’t walk off the mat. Even if it sucks, you have to keep going.”