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Shawnee female wrestler Selah Citizen making history

Brian Johnson
Shawnee News-Star, USA TODAY NETWORK
Shawnee High School freshman wrestler Selah Citizen poses after taking second at regionals last weekend.

Selah Citizen is on a historic run.

After a second-place finish in the 127-pound weight division at regionals in Norman, the Shawnee High School freshman is the first female state qualifier in school history.

“I was kind of nervous being one of the first girls from Shawnee to go to regionals,” said Citizen. “To go to state, it's hard to process.”

Citizen went 2-1 at regionals as she won her first two matches by a 15-3 major decision over Carl Albert's Janelle Lynch and a 7-2 decision over Norman's Laurin Walls before falling to Hinton's Rain VanTassell in the finals by a late fall in 5:57.

“In my first match, I won 15-3 and didn't feel like I scored that much. In my next match (the semifinals) I about got pinned, but the match was stopped (temporarily) because I had a bloody nose. I then got a reversal and got some points back,” Citizen said.

Shawnee High School head wrestling coach Nik Turner attributes much of Citizen's success to her will to win.

“She will be in tough situations, down late in matches and she just finds a way. That can't really be taught. She has an opportunity to be really special in this sport,” said Turner.

Citizen's competition at the high school level has been limited this season. She has produced an overall record of 18-5 in high school and junior high matches combined this year. In her only other high school tournament, she also placed second at McLoud.

It's only Citizen's third year of wrestling and she is a three-time junior high state placer.

“Selah is a little newer to wrestling, but she isn't necessarily new to grappling. I believe she did a little Jiu Jitsu before she started (wrestling),” Turner said.

Her journey on the mats began as a seventh grader when she played football. The head coach for our seventh grade team, Coach (Andrew) McCune (also middle school wrestling coach), asked me to come out for wrestling. I thought, one season won't hurt and I ended up staying with it.”

Along with adjusting to the new sport, Citizen spent much of her time working out and competing against the guys.

“A majority of my matches were still wrestling boys,” said Citizen. “It came down to the point that it became harder to wrestle girls than it did the guys because I had been used to wrestling guys.”

Citizen remembers her first year in wrestling.

“My first year, I was the new girl on the team. At first, the boys didn't know how to handle the girls and sometimes I got made fun of. I just had to fight through it,” Citizen said. “I feel like I'm accepted more now. They know I'm not going anywhere soon. They've kind of accepted it.”

Turner believes Citizen's adjustment to wrestling other females instead of males comes down to flexibility.

“Certain pin holds and techniques work much better on boys because of the lack of flexibility,” said Turner. “Girls are so flexible, especially in their shoulders, and at times it can be harder to find ways to get back points.”

Now Citizen gears up for the girls' state tournament which is scheduled for Feb. 25.

“I'm excited to be a part of only the second state tournament (for girls). Hopefully, I can place,” said Citizen.