A wrestling-rich namesake has helped a few boys from making the ill-fated mistake of taking Alyssa Randles lightly.
It carries weight – much more than the Coeur d’Alene sophomore’s 120 pounds – on mats across Idaho.
Her father, Coeur d’Alene athletic director Mike Randles, won three 4A titles and a truckload of hardware in his 17 years as the head coach at Sandpoint.
Older brother Casey Randles was a three-time state champion who went 26-13 at Wyoming before transferring to NAIA power Grand View in Iowa.
Coeur d’Alene teammate and middle sibling Nolan Randles is in pursuit of a 152-pound 5A title and a fourth state medal.
But Alyssa Randles, ranked seventh in the country in USA Wrestling’s latest girls poll, is a bit of an anomaly, beating several boys and contributing to one of the region’s finest big-school varsity boys programs.
“(Boys) take her very seriously,” said Mike Randles, also an assistant coach at Coeur d’Alene. “She doesn’t get any breaks. Some of the toughest boys in the area face her and go all-out without thinking twice about it.”
Pins are standard for Randles in girls tournaments.
Wins are euphoric in boys tournaments.
“You’re going out there, and the boys have the advantage with the muscles,” said Randles, who won an all-class Idaho girls state wrestling tournament as a freshman in February. “You’re often at a physical disadvantage, so all you can do is just go out, do your best and have a blast.”
A boys 5A State tournament alternate as a freshman last season, one of Alyssa Randles’ most memorable wins was pinning a solid letterman from three-time defending state Post Falls, Bradley Mason, in 54 seconds in the 5A District I tournament, finishing fourth in her bracket.
Randles also won a sizable boys freshman tournament in Spokane last season.
Nolan Randles gets an extra jolt when he sees his sister’s hand lifted in victory.
“It’s exhilarating. It’s so much fun to see that. Our team is so proud of her, and a lot of those matches (against boys) can go either way,” Nolan said. “She faces nationally ranked girls and pretty tough guys in North Idaho.
“She has the confidence, dresses like a wrestler. She is respected.”
And relatively new to the sport.
Alyssa was a dancer and volleyball player who was often immersed in wrestling by proximity, but never exhibited a desire to put on a singlet and headgear.
She likes spending time with her father even more.
Four years ago, Mike Randles was set to leave the family’s home to coach at a wrestling camp and Alyssa wanted to tag along.
“But you don’t wrestle,” he told her.
“Then I’ll wrestle, too,” the 12-year-old retorted.
Hundreds of matches later – including a second-place finish at the Brian Kick Memorial preseason national tournament in Iowa last month – she is Idaho’s top-ranked high school girls wrestler.
“She came out of nowhere, really,” Mike Randles said. “She is very strong for a girl with very unusual body awareness.”
The youngest Randle picked a good time to join the family business.
High school girls wrestling is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, which reported over 21,000 high school girls wrestlers in the 2018-2019 school year.
Earlier this year, the NCAA added wrestling to its Emerging Sports for Women program, which helps encourage schools to add the sport.
The Idaho High School Activities Association approved a plan in September to sanction girls wrestling beginning in the 2021-22 school year.
“I am super excited that it’s starting to grow and give more girls opportunity to wrestle,” Alyssa said. “I want to go as far as this sport will take me.”
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