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Linda Mah
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Sheridan Britney: Track Star & Wrestler

Female Athlete Calls Wrestling the Hardest Things She's Ever Done

Sheridan Britney knows some people think she started wrestling to meet boys.

She rolls her eyes. You look extremely gross after practice.

You don’t smell good — you smell like the rest of the team,” Britney said. “Wrestling is too gross for me to do it for a boy.”

Britney, 18, graduated in June from Loy Norrix High School where this year she served as co-captain of the varsity wrestling team along with her brother Roy Britney Jr. She lives in Kalamazoo with her father Roy Britney. Her mother is Sheila Britney. She plans to attend Adrian College in the fall.

Britney didn’t start out as a wrestler. She’s a runner and was on the Loy Norrix track team where she ran the 200 and 400 meter, as well as the 4x400 relay and the 4x200 relay. She began running because her father ran track at Western Michigan University. In the time between her freshman and sophomore track seasons, she started weight conditioning. That happened to be the same time the wrestlers were training.

“It was the hardest conditioning I’d ever done,” Britney said. “A lot of guys struggled with the running in conditioning, but it wasn’t that bad for me because of track. Coach (Darrick Parker) said, ‘Why don’t you come out and wrestle? You don’t have anything to do anyway.’

“I thought it was an all-guys sport. I didn’t think girls were even allowed to wrestle. There were some guys on the team who were like, ‘You won’t make it through the wrestling season, you won’t even make it through conditioning.’ So, of course, I had to try.”

She won one match and lost seven as a junior varsity wrestler. But, she signed up the next year.

“The coaches were shocked to see me come back in my junior year,” Britney said. “I couldn’t let that be my final record.”

Her junior year she won 24 and lost 14, and her senior year, she won 10 and lost 14.

“I really like wrestling,” she said. “I like being part of a guys’ team. They all treated me like the rest of their teammates. I had a good time. The coaches are funny. My teammates are funny. And, it gave me something to do in the winter time.”

An added benefit: It made her a better runner.

“I like cut 5 seconds off my personal best record. It was ridiculous. In the 400 meter, I went from 65 to 60 flat, which as far as the 400 is concerned, is a big jump.”

Track coach Greg Savicke said he’ll miss her talents next year.

“Sheridan is an outstanding athlete as well as an outstanding person,” Savicke said. “She is very well liked at school, gets great grades, and is very focused in all of her endeavors.

“She really shined in track where she is a four-time varsity letter winner. Sheridan will be greatly missed next spring, but I’m looking forward to seeing what she does at the next level.”

Britney said she enjoyed being captain of the wrestling team this year, because it changed how the other athletes related to her. Some wrestlers were shocked to see a girl walk out to shake hands with the opposing captain at the beginning of tournaments but other than that — and a few rude comments — most people were supportive.

She took most of her opponents in the third period of the three-period matches, meaning she had to be in better shape and have more endurance, to wear out her competitors.

“I just had to be as fast as possible when I was making moves. I had to know exactly what I was doing. I couldn’t slip up,” she said. “No guy wants to lose to a girl. So they are using 100 percent effort to defy every single one of your efforts. Wrestling is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Athletics are her main extracurricular activity, but academics are her top priority, she said. One, because she has to work hard to maintain her eligibility, and two because her parents simply demand good grades. Outside of sports and homework, she plays clarinet in the marching band and bassoon in the symphonic band. In the winter, she likes snowboarding.

As she looks forward to college, she worries — like many students — about leaving behind friends and finding new ones. She gave a shout out to her track teammate Nuru Lewis, who will be taking Britney’s place in all of her events.

“I don’t want her to worry.” “Norrix gets a lot of bad press. People say kids at Norrix or rude or whatever,” she said. “I personally had a great time at Norrix. I think the people at Norrix are quality people. I’ve seen people sit alone at lunch, but I think everyone can find a friend at Norrix.”

Wrestling photos are courtesy of Marelyn Krueger. 

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