Gold medal wrestler Dan Gable famously said, “Once you’ve wrestled everything in life is easy.” It’s a sport measured by passion, intensity and strength.
Agie Mai Sowe has all those traits in spades. Her passion for sports led her to join the Sun Prairie High School wrestling team.
“Growing up, I used to watch wrestling on TV all the time with my dad and we always joked around about how that could be me one day,” Sowe said.
Her coach Jim Nelson says Sowe matches her teammates’ intensity every day.
“She comes to practice ready to work hard. We don’t have to worry,” Nelson said, “Every time she’s in the room, we know she’s going to be pushing herself hard.”
Sowe shows her strength in the weight room and on the mat. She’s trained hard to be competitive, but there have been challenges. At five years old she was diagnosed with a rare eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa.
“It’s basically where you lose light in the back of your eye,” Sowe said.
It affects the retina and can eventually cause full blindness, but Sowe still has some limited vision.
“When someone is demonstrating a move, I can kind of see what they’re doing, but I have to be able to like feel the move to know how to do it,” Sowe said.
There are rules to make sure she wrestles safely. Opponents must be in contact with Sowe when a match begins.
“When they start, they have to have one hand on top and one hand on bottom and they’re just touching hands,” Nelson said.
If the two wrestlers break contact the match is immediately halted, and the wrestlers reset. Sowe says her teammates have been supportive both in practice and at competitions.
“We all look out for each other,” Sowe said, “We support each other at each other’s matches and they’re great.”
Nelson is proud of the progress Sowe has made since she joined the team, but he’s even more excited for her future after wrestling.
“The most important thing is hard work pays off in real life, and we want her to understand that we are always pulling for her to be successful after high school,” Nelson said.
Sowe plans to become an electrical engineer. She knows everything in life won’t actually be easy, even if she’s a wrestler. She believes that with the right attitude, she can grapple with anything that comes her way.
“I just feel like no matter all the problems you have, there’s always a positive way out,” Sowe said, “It gets hard sometimes and yeah, that’s life, but there’s the positive side to it and you just have to stay hopeful.”