Following international success, Amherst’s Reagen Gallaway driven to grow girls wrestling in Nebraska
AMHERST, Neb. — Ever since she hit the mat for the first time, Reagen Gallaway has wanted to make an impact on the sport of wrestling.
“After my first practice, I’m hooked. I’m ready to beat people up," Gallaway said. "That very first moment, I was like, wrestling is my sport.”
The Amherst senior could view her small-town roots and presence as a girl in a male-dominated sport as barriers. She uses her background as fuel.
“If you say we can’t do something, we’re gonna do it," Gallaway said. "I just love the competitiveness and the people pushing each other… I love it.”
Gallaway competed her way to gold at the first-ever NSAA girls wrestling state championships in February.
“I just looked up in the stands, I was like, ‘wow I’m in Omaha and I just won a state title.’ I actually never thought it would happen. I never thought Nebraska (girls) wrestling would get sanctioned in my time,” Gallaway said.
Gallaway built on that success by wrestling at junior nationals in Fargo. Then, she earned a nomination to wrestle for the Team USA AAU team in Normandy, France. Her ascent in the sport comes as no surprise to Coach Chase Klingelhoefer.
“She always is looking for more competition, tougher competition," Klingelhoefer said. "She starts in Central Nebraska, branches out to maybe Lincoln and Omaha, then before you know it she’s out of state lines, then all of a sudden she’s out of country lines.”
Gallaway didn’t just participate in France, she placed.
“I wrestled a girl from Turkey in my bronze match," Gallaway said. "I pinned her in the first period with a good ol’ half-nelson that we learned in folkstyle.”
But personal achievements are just a small snapshot of her big picture plan.
“I don’t want to be looked at as a state champion, I just want to be looked at as a girl who wants to grow women’s wrestling," Gallaway said. "That’s the end goal, just grow women’s wrestling. So I just want to prove that girls can wrestle. I love that I have little girls looking up to me and seeing that I can do it so they can accomplish it in the future.”
Gallaway hosted multiple clinics and camps for young wrestlers over the summer and sees coaching in her future. But in the short-term, the state’s top-ranked pound-for-pound wrestler is focused on repeating at State, placing at nationals, and starting her college career.
She knows she’ll be doing all of it with her small town behind her.
“I’m doing it for me but I’m also doing it for my community. My community, they support me 100%. They all have my back," Gallaway said. "So when I’m wearing that Amherst (emblem) on my singlet, I’m not representing myself but my community, my family, my friends.”