Fans of combat sports like mixed martial arts may be just as perplexed as others when they find out that so many fighters come out of the state of Missouri. Not that they all are born and bred here some just happen to attend prestigious institutions with rich wrestling histories. With women making headlines in mainsports these days, many forget there are also warriors in so called “niche” sports that deserve more than just a bit of recognition. Being a fan of collegiate wrestling this writer came across a startling revelation one day as yours truly began to notice the female collegiate wrestling rankings of a few universities right here in my own back yard were very well represented.
One that stuck out was the Lindenwood Lions wrestling team. After speaking to a few of their athletes this writer was directed to the captain of the squad, All American and the number 1 woman ranked in the 170 division, Victoria Francis. She was kind enough to answer a few questions after participating in the Missouri Valley Open Tournament back on the weekend of November 14th. Victoria had a successful run through the bracket and also was very proud of her teammates. We talked about the tourney, the season so far, what it takes to be the captain of such a talented roster and what Victoria is looking forward to in the off season. Enjoy the interview!
Victoria thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us how are you feeling after a busy weekend?
Pretty well, pretty happy with the team performance this weekend.
How important is it for you to get those first two byes? Are you able to check out the competition more or do you feel you know most of your opponents inside out?
Honestly, the bye is no big deal for me. On one hand, it’s nice to have some time to relax and let breakfast settle before my first match but I’m ready to wrestle if I need to. I don’t necessarily spend my time scouting out my competition, I prefer to go in my match ready to wrestle my style.
Were you surprised by anything that your opponents did this weekend and who do you feel gave you the biggest challenge?
Sherese Thomas was my biggest challenge and she surprised me this weekend in the fact that she was not attacking. I’ve wrestled her before and I’ve always had to battle back to win because she always starts the match strong and attacking. But this weekend she felt very defensive. However, she was still a challenge because she knows what I do and she’s very strong.
How do you felt your team performed and who would you say out of all the girls stood out over the weekend?
I felt please with my team’s performance this weekend. We had several girls medal. A couple who stood out would be Lisa Gonzales who took 2nd at 155. She has been on fire this year. Also Hannah Padilla opened up this weekend and scored a couple wins after some rough losses in the past few weeks. Mikayla Matthews was able to finally defeat McKendree in the the beginning of the day after several losses to the same girl.
How is your season going so far and what are you excited about in the upcoming weeks?
I’d say I’m having a solid season so far. I’ve been able to step back and work on some things and try to include them in my matches before I get on the world stage again. I’m honestly excited for the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas break. I’ll be able to get back on the mat at my high school and it’ll be nice to mix things up a little.
What does it mean to you to be the captain of such a talented group of individuals?
This year is my second year of being captain and it’s been very important to me. I am trying to take responsibility for my team’s performance by pushing them in practice, giving different ideas to use in practice to coach, and leading a lift in the morning to those willing to show up. It’s been quite a battle to assume the position of pushing a team. It has been one thing to push myself to where I am, but to push a whole team, it’s tiring. But I know it will pay off in the end and I refuse to let up on them.
Tell me about your experience at the Jr. World Championships this summer? How did that help you for this season?
The main thing it did was build some major confidence in myself. I know stepping on the mat during the college season that I will dominate these matches. But on the other hand, Junior World Championships along with my other tournaments this summer have proven to me how much more I have to improve and that drives me to better myself.
How’s the semester going at school is it rough being a student athlete? What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? What’s that? Being a student athlete is rough to say in the least. I’m a double major of mathematics and computer science. I’ve averaged 18 credit hours a semester since I’ve started school and have maintained a 4.0 thus far. Then on the athlete side of things, I have two hours of practice 5 days a week plus I do my best to get 5 additional workouts in a week. And unlike some student-athletes, I do my best to get my 8+ hours of sleep. It honestly is crucial to my success. I have minimal spare time, especially when I have competition on the weekend.
Do you train any other sports? Is there a possible future outside of wrestling athletically for you?
I considered joining the cross country team this year after they asked me to join, but declined because I do not have time to take on other responsibilities.
I always joke I’m not much of an athlete because of the fact that other sports do not come easy to me at all. However, when I’m done with wrestling, I will continue to lift and run and possibly compete in both because I truly love doing both and know my competitive nature will not die until I do.
Tell me how it is dealing with Coach Toccara Montgomery as the captain of the team? What are some of the things you guys are working to improve on daily?
One thing her and I have talked about is the girls’ confidence in themselves. And that is a hard thing to instill in somebody. But I’m trying to help those I can and have seen some improvement in the girls this semester. I know that was what made my success in the past year happen, a little confidence in myself.
How excited are you for the finish of this season and are you looking towards any after the season?
I’m excited for the end of the season because our post-season some of us do is more fun and competition is no longer every weekend so it’s not as hard on the body and easier to keep up in school. And of course I’m looking forward to summer because that is my chance to focus on wrestling and have some of that spare time you were talking about earlier.
Last question Victoria does rankings matter to you when going into your matches or is it strictly the opponent in front of you?
I do like know the rankings, but only because either if the girl is ranked below me, I’m going to stand my ground and refuse to let go of my ranking or if the girl is ahead of me, I love upsetting the rankings. But in the end, pretty much anybody can beat anybody within range in the rankings, just depends on who is having a good day.
You can track the progress of Victoria and her team at: