(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)
Springdale wrestler signs with D-3 school…
Shallon Crossley is making up for lost time.
After wrestling for just two years at Mary Walker High School, the recently graduated resident of Springdale is continuing her career at Mac Murray College in Jacksonville, Illinois.
A basketball player by trade, Crossley decided to make the switch her junior year after coming off two minor knee surgeries. She discovered a knack and a passion for the sport of wrestling and is excited she gets to continue to do a sport she loves.
MacMurray College competes in NCAA Div. III and announced in 2016 that it would be bringing back its wrestling program – including a women’s team – after a ten-year gap. MacMurray was originally an all-female school, founded in 1845 by Methodist clergymen but has since become fully co-ed with an enrollment of 570 students.
For Crossley, it’s an adventure away from Northeastern Washington that she knew she wanted to take. Getting there, however was a road of hard work, taking risks and getting a few bumps and bruises along the way.
After a coaching shakeup in the basketball program at Mary Walker, Crossley thought outloud to the school secretary, who also is a coach in the wrestling program, that she was interested in switching sports.
“I told her what I was thinking about,” Shallon said. “I always wanted to wrestle but it seemed scary and hard work to me. But I guess I like that about the sport: it was a challenge.”
Crossley entered the program under coaches Donna Hutchinson and Kyle Dodge.
“At first since I was recovering from knee surgery, I got to work out on my own pace, but when I got to move into the wrestling room that was really a great feeling,” Shallon said.
Her parents, Brian and Rima, wondered at first why she made the switch but soon became her biggest supporters and helped her tremendously through the journey to wrestle collegiality. Shallon, who was also the class president and doing running start, saw the sport as a way to stay connected to the school while taking college courses.
“Wrestling is more family building — it’s an individual sport but you also have teammates you cheer on,” Shallon said. “It was so much fun that first practice when we were doing tumbles and cartwheels and I was going ‘I’ve never done those.’ When I began wrestling I knew about two moves but kept working on improving and by my senior year they were having me teach things to younger wrestlers.”
During Shallon’s career at Springdale, she qualified for the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome twice.
“There was that weird shock feeling walking into the Tacoma Dome for the first practice and going ‘I did this and I made it.’” Shallon said.
A competitive person at heart, Shallon thrived on the individual responsibility when it came to wrestling.
“I would nitpick what I did after a loss and look to change that,” Crossley said. “I had gone in with no experience and I just needed mat time.”
Earning the nickname “The Beast from the East,” Shallon began to earn some interest from colleges to wrestle at the next level. At first it was email newsletters and then personal recruiting emails came. What stood out to Shallon about MacMurray was coach Randi Miller. Miller was an Olympic bronze medalist so Shallon jumped at the chance to train under an Olympian. Now it appears that Shallon will wrestle at 190 pounds for the Highlanders.
“When I went on my tour and practiced, Randi paired me up in practice and she was a good teacher and very easy to understand,” Shallon said.
The coaches liked Shallon’s natural wrestling ability, and the school has awarded the Springdale wrestler a $20,000 presidential academic scholarship since Div. III athletes cannot quality for an athletic scholarship.
Recruiter and coach Nick McClellan also helped Crossley a lot during the recruitment process.
“They look for smart wrestlers and in girls collegiate wrestling you get to wrestle everyone, even wrestlers from Div. 1 schools,” Shallon said.
After being a twelve-year senior at Mary Walker, Shallon is off on a new adventure far from home. She said she really wants to see how far she can advance at this level and see where the sports takes her.
And judging by just her two years worth of work, that could be far.