When Chelsea Brown beats a male wrestler, she realizes the long-lasting effect it can have.
"It's great. It definitely is," she said. "But it's bad for them. It's OK for me. I don't really feel like, 'Oh, I beat a guy,' but it must hurt for them.
"They're thinking, 'I just got beat by a girl.' "
For the junior at Greenbrier High School, it all started years ago when she lived in Florida.
Brown was interested in taking up the sport, but some thought she didn't belong.
"I remember in middle school when I got interested in wrestling," she said. "I was like, 'Oh, I want to wrestle.' They said, 'Girls can't wrestle.'
"That made me want to come out here even more," she added. "I was like, 'OK, I'll show you.' "
Despite showing interest back then, Brown didn't get started in wrestling until this year. The move from Florida during the middle of her freshman year had something to do with the delay.
From the start, she showed a sharp level of aptitude, said Gralyn Harris, who coaches the Wolfpack alongside Chris McDaniel.
Harris formerly coached a national champion women's judo team at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Through that experience, he believes female athletes are more "coachable" and can use leverage to combat strength.
He said that Brown learned proper technique first, then developed the strength to optimize that technique and to complement her agility.
"I really do think it's ideal to come in, learn the technique, learn the movements, then add the muscle," Harris said. "Because when that happens, rather than pull and tear, you're accelerating something that's already happening."
Brown said Harris told her she could be great.
"He really pulled me into it," she said. "He definitely gave me confidence."
That confidence helped her pull off quite a performance earlier this season during a meet at Westside High School.
In her first victory, she used technique to offset a disparity in strength, winning by a 9-7 decision.
"He was definitely a guy trying to manhandle me," Brown said. "But because that's all he was trying to do, he put himself in bad situations. I managed to get around him and get my points."
Exhausted during her final match of the night, Brown found herself in a tight battle late in the third round.
"We were tied with about 15 seconds left," she noted. "We would've had to go into overtime, and I was already so out of it."
Instead of giving in, Brown managed a last-ditch takedown to score her second consecutive victory.
"That one brought the gym to its feet," Harris said. "They were chanting, 'Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea.' They were watching her fight back, and she didn't just lay down.
"She swung the entire gym to her side by the time it was over."
Brown wrestles in the 119-pound weight class, where she has earned the spot by beating fellow Wolfpack wrestlers at the same weight. It means she likely will be in the lineup during the team state competition Jan. 14-15 in Macon.
Brown said she learns more from her losses than from her wins. It's all about the process of getting better, and she expects great things next year season as a senior.
"My goal is just to get better and better, the best that I can be," she said.
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