Eagle River high school wrestler Lauren Bodeen overcame long odds to reach the podium at the 2022 Alaska girls high school state tournament. As a junior, she entered as the sixth seed in the 107 weight division despite having just won her first regional title. She went on to beat the second and fourth seeds on her way to placing third at state.
Heading into her final regional tournament as a senior, she is not only the reigning region champion but she is the top-ranked girls wrestler at 107 in the Last Frontier with the 2023 ASAA state championship tournament just a week away.
“Whatever happens will happen, and I know that is how it is going to be if I just keep working hard and stay humble,” Bodeen said. “I know I can get beat if I don’t keep my work ethic up. I keep working as if I were the last seed.”
She boasts an impressive record of 19-1 according to trackwrestling.com with her lone loss of the season coming at the onset before she was able to cut down from 114 to 107. Since she’s been at her preferred weight, she has yet to drop a match and has notched 15 straight victories heading into regions this weekend.
“I started off the season with two very hard matches and I’ve just been working my way up,” Bodeen said. “Every practice I work my butt off, and I just keep going. I’ve been working toward state and maintaining my position as first seed in the state.”
After not placing as a sophomore and coming in third last year, Eagle River head coach Chad Aubin believes she is “on pace to at least be in the finals if not the top of the podium.”
“She has put the work in and has got a lot of God-given talent, but she doesn’t just lay on the mat,” Aubin said. “She does everything she can and works hard in practice.”
They both agree that the area in which she has made the most significant strides has been in her technique which she worked on diligently throughout the offseason.
“It’s really improved a lot. She really put the work in, and honed in on the little skills and little things to get everything right,” Aubin said.
In addition to her improved technique, Bodeen says she has learned how to not be complacent or stagnant in one position and just “keep moving no matter the position I’m in.”
“Also having new moves in my back pocket that I can just take out and use for any situation I’m in,” she said. “My mentality is to keep going no matter what happens.”
Even though she came up short last year, Aubin says she has approached her senior season with the same intensity and focus as she did last year as a junior with no extra motivation needed.
“She’s athletic and really competitive and she just goes out there and wants to work hard because she wants to do the best she can every year,” he said.
Before she wrestles at state, Bodeen will compete at regionals this weekend at South Anchorage High. Bodeen is excited to make the most of her opportunity to hopefully complete a successful title defense and repeat as region champion.
“I’m just so ready to pull out new moves and see what I can do,” she said.
Bodeen said her toughest matches of the season came in her first tournament in October when she was wrestling up at 114 and in her championship match at the vaunted Lancer Smith tournament in November.
Diverse athletic background and future plans
Bodeen’s wrestling journey featured an early introduction followed by a long pause before she picked the sport back up as a sophomore in high school.
She first started wrestling when her dad, Lance, got her started at club level from the time she was 4-5 years old.
“I said it wasn’t for me anymore and I wanted to try different things,” Bodeen said. “I found the sport of gymnastics and I loved it.”
She competed for six years and even won a regional tournament in Montana in 2020 during her freshman year of high school.
“I owe all my strength, flexibility, and body awareness to gymnastics,” Bodeen said. “That has really helped me with my wrestling.”
She stopped competing in gymnastics after that and transferred from Mat-Su Career & Tech High School in the Valley to Eagle River, where she could pursue her dream of playing flag football. There, she was encouraged to pick up wrestling again.
“The manager of the wrestling team at the time reached out to me and knew I was athletic, and she said I should join the wrestling team,” Bodeen said. “At the time, I thought I had too much homework to get done, but I gave it a chance and I ended up loving it again and got my dad back into coaching it.”
Although she’s been a successful wrestler, Bodeen will still be playing flag football at the collegiate level after receiving a scholarship from Milligan University in Elizabethton, Tennessee. She has also received interest from Montana State University and University of Wyoming.
“That was my goal because I really love flag football, but wrestling is definitely up there, and I just love learning about it and coaching little kids,” she said.
Bodeen intends to study biology and animal science so she can become a large-animal veterinarian someday.