McPherson’s Addie Lanning will forever be the answer to an Ottawa University trivia question.
The trailblazing Lanning became the first signed wrestler in OU history Thursday morning when she inked a letter of intent in the McPherson High library, with family and friends in attendance.
Ottawa is starting wrestling for the 2014-15 season, with Kevin Andres coaching both the men’s and women’s teams. This is Andres’ fourth such undertaking, having started programs from scratch at three other schools as he enjoys the challenge. He’s hoping to sign no less than 30 wrestlers combined for the two programs.
In Lanning, he’ll be getting one of the top female wrestlers in Kansas as her accomplishments in federation competition are unmatched.
• USAW two-time All-American
• Fargo Nationals Freestyle All-American
• USGWA – Ranked nationally in the Top 5 for the past six years
• USAW — Kansas Women’s wrestling – 5-time state champion
• Body Bar National – 2nd place
• Southern Plain Regional Championship Freestyle Women’s Champion
Lanning, whose brother Zach plays football at Ottawa for coach Kent Kessinger, competes on the Bullpups’ boys team. She’s looking forward to continuing her career at the collegiate level.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Lanning said. “It (being the first-ever OU signee) is a pretty sweet deal. I’m just looking forward to meeting everyone else.”
Lanning said her brother’s influence played a role in her selection.
“He tells me he really likes where it’s at. It really fits him and we’re kind of close to the same person,” she said. “If it fits him, then it will probably fit me.”
Lanning wrestled for MHS for two years, then took her junior year off. She’s come back this season and has totaled more than 30 wins during her career in varsity and JV competition.
Lanning expects to compete in the 136-pound or 140-pound class for Andres, who was a major reason she chose OU.
“He’s awesome,” Lanning said. “He’d definitely made a difference in my choosing what school to go to.”
“We did get a very good one,” Andres said. “To have someone of this caliber as Ottawa’s first signee is amazing. I’m very, very excited about this. She had expressed interest quite early. When I saw her accomplishments on her recruiting form, I said this is someone we need in our program.”
MHS coach Doug Kretzer believes Lanning can be a star at this level.
“I think they’ve got someone who can step in right away and wrestle at a high college level,” Kretzer said. “She’s done well on the national stage for years now. She’s hands-down on our team wrestled the most on a national level. With her technical skills and strength, she’s a great pull for them. She holds her own against boys day-in and day-out in our wrestling room. She’s really performed well against the boys she’s run into and in the matches she’s had. This is big deal for us, for our school and our town. We have a lot of girls who wrestle in this town and in our club (MAC Wrestling Club) with Lance (Engel). He’s done a lot to promote the sport in our town.”
Lanning admits wrestling only females will be a change. She wrestles against the boys in high school and just against girls in the offseason.
“I’ve grown up doing it (wrestling boys) and it will be different, definitely, changing to an all-girls schedule,” she said.
Lanning, who has been wrestling since the third grade, has always been drawn to the sport.
“When I’m not wrestling, I feel lazy and I’m just sitting on the sidelines,” she said. “If I wasn’t doing it, I don’t know what else I would do.”
Lanning also is a soccer standout and will be playing in her second year for the Bullpups. She greatly enjoys the sport and admits she may try to do both at OU, but wrestling is still her top priority.
Addie, the daughter of Mindy and Brian Lanning, plans on majoring in athletic training.