116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — Rachel Eddy began wrestling in kindergarten.
The Independence junior followed in the footsteps of her siblings, like many wrestlers. Once she reached third grade, however, she had to choose between winter activities. Eddy opted for basketball, pausing her wrestling ambitions.
Even when she stopped playing basketball, she still was set on wrestling again, even as the girls’ competition started its boom. She joined the Mustangs program as a freshman and hasn’t looked back.
“My brothers always wrestled,” Eddy said. “So, in the living room, we had those wrestling matches. Freshman year, I finally decided this is what I was going to do.
“It was really nice to have my brother in the room my first two years. If I ever needed a partner, he will wrestle me. He’ll always work with me. Yesterday, we got to roll around. I’m very thankful and grateful for him.”
Eddy is probably grateful she decided to return to wrestling. She earned her third straight medal at the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls’ state tournament Saturday at Xtream Arena in Coralville. The 2021 IWCOA girls’ state champion and two-time finalist secured another top-four finish at 190 pounds.
Eddy acknowledge the target on her back as a defending champion and a challenge she embraces.
“It’s great because everyone brings their A-game for me,” said Eddy, who dropped a 2-1 decision to Nevada’s Mackenzie Arends, but rebounded with a pin in the consolations. “I get the best opponents possible.”
Independence assistant coach Matt Shannon has worked with Eddy. He said that she is a student of the sport. Eddy constantly asks questions, ranging from the intricacies of moves to her opponents and tournament setup. Her inquisitive disposition allows her to soak in as much knowledge as possible.
“She wants to know what’s going on because she has this plan of how things are going to go in her head,” Shannon said. “She wants to know all the details.”
Eddy knows that the small things can make a big difference on the mat.
“If I’m doing a move and I’m doing it just a little bit wrong, that little margin of error is where the match can be won or lost,” Eddy said. “I’m just trying to give myself the best opportunity.”
Mental preparation for bouts starts with a purposeful pace. Her menacing march resembles a caged tiger irritated by onlookers. Eddy has a pre-match soundtrack in her headphones, escalating from lighter music to more intense tunes with each back-and-forth turn.
She uses those moments to visualize each move and sequence of the upcoming match.
“I’m telling myself you’re going to win,” said Eddy, who is ranked 15th nationally at 200 pounds by USA Wrestling. “You defend. It’s your offense. Score the points. If you score points, you’re going to win. Just talking myself up so I’m on top (of my game) when I’m stepping on the line.”
Eddy has been one of the top girls’ wrestlers during the drive to sanction the sport in Iowa. She owned a 14-1 record before her third-place match Saturday. She was 14-0 last season, winning the 195-pound title. Eddy was 11-1 as a freshman with her lone loss coming to Iowa Valley’s three-time IWCOA girls’ state champion Millie Peach.
“She’s always had that every year she’s wrestled,” Shannon said. “She knows what she wants. She has her mind set and she’s going to go after it. That’s what you have to do. She works hard.”