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Augsburg’s Lange to compete in Olympic wrestling trials

TRAPPED ­— Augsburg University grappler Katie Lange (left) traps her opponent’s legs with a double-ankle hold during NCAA Division III wrestling action. Lange, a Martin County West High School graduate and Sherburn native, will compete in the Olympic women’s wrestling trials on April 19-20 at Penn State University campus in Happy Valley, Penn. (Photo courtesy of Augsburg University athletic department)

SHERBURN — Katie Lange got lucky. Some people search their entire lives for their calling. She figured her dream out before most people step foot in any school.

Lange has come a long way and now is inching toward her goal of competing in the Olympic trials April 19-20 at Penn State University’s campus.

“I remember the moment I chose to wrestle, my dad was a state champion and got us into it at a young age,” Lange said. “I had just finished up at dance practice and my dad was driving us to pick up my brother from wrestling– in that moment as a 4-year-old, I pointed down at the mat and knew this is what I wanted to do.”

That car ride sparked what would become Lange’s identity. Growing up in a school system that was loaded with talented wrestlers both helped and hurt Lange in her quest for success.

She came to the realization during her high school career that even though wrestling was her dream, she needed to find other things that represent who she is.

“In high school, I took a break my sophomore and junior years and honestly I wasn’t even sure I’d come back to wrestling, I felt like I needed to sort of find myself outside wrestling first,” Lange said.

Lange got lucky again. In high school she got to wrestle with the perennial state-qualifying Martin County Red Bulls. She was facing off against wrestlers like Jaxson Rohman and getting better from the experience on the mat.

“I grew up in class with Jaxson Rohman and others who were so passionate about the sport and even though they were boys, I didn’t want any special treatment,” Lange said in reference to Augustana University’s Rohman, the 2023 NCAA Division II national runner-up at 125 pounds. “I know of some girls who weren’t as fortunate, but the grit and support those boys gave me in high school has gotten me where I am today.”

After graduating from high school, Lange chose to attend Augsburg University as a member of their women’s wrestling program.

It took time to adjust, but eventually Lange came around at the college level and tapped into her potential.

“My teammates were huge, a lot of them graduated last year, but they always believed in me,” Lange said. “Last year started out rough with some injuries and confidence issues, but my teammates and the staff really helped to show me how good I can be.”

Lange didn’t know just how right her team was.

The Augsburg sophomore standout won the National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Championships Division III individual championship at 143 pounds.

Lange’s record last season was 33-6, including 16 pins and 23 technical falls, while her overall two-year record soared to 51-7.

Following an amazing sophomore season, she qualified for the United States Olympic Wrestling team trials hosted by Penn State.

In order to compete for a shot at the Olympics, Lange has decided not to compete at the collegiate level this season and will instead focus on training.

Lange is aware of the jump in competition, but that is something she already overcame transitioning from the high school level to the college level.

“Every wrestler is different. At the higher levels you begin to view your opponents in a more tactical way,” Lange said. “I’m still learning and adjusting, but I also think you never fully grasp it.”

There is no higher honor for an American wrestler than making the Olympic squad and Lange will be at the precipice of achieving just that.

“That’s been my dream since I started, my life would be complete (not actually),” Lange said. “I do it for more than my current self, I compete for the 20-year-old me who broke both elbows, or the 15-year-old me who questioned her identity beyond wrestling.

“I compete to fulfill my four year old selfs’ dream.”

Katie is the daughter of Lisa and Kevin Lange of Sherburn.

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