When Lakes High School’s Kiaya Van Scoyoc talks about her inspirations in wrestling, she mentions an unexpected name.
It is Jermaine Kearse, the former Lancers football star who caught a touchdown pass in the Seattle Seahawks’ first Super Bowl victory on Sunday.
While Van Scoyoc’s ultimate goal isn’t the hoisting of the Lombardi Trophy, she is already amassing a nice collection of hardware herself as the school’s most decorated female wrestler.
“I feel like I get to be another contributing factor coming from Lakes,” she said. “I’m trying to go further and further and become a big name like him.
“It gives me hope that I can do it.”
In 2012, Van Scoyoc became the first female wrestler in West Central District history to win a state title — and has two other top-three finishes in the tournament.
Last summer, she also won the 172-pound division at the 2013 USAW Junior Women’s Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, N.D.
She is also a two-time U.S. Open gold medalist in judo and Junior Pan-American silver medalist, also in judo.
“It’s who I am,” said Van Scoyoc, a senior. “When I’m wrestling, I forget about everything. It brings me back to my roots and I can have fun and be me.”
The road to wrestling actually began at age 5, when she wanted to be a gymnast. Her dad thought judo was a better fit.
“All I saw was cartwheels,” she said with a laugh.
In eighth grade, her coach suggested she give wrestling a try.
“It was culture shock,” she said. “There weren’t many girls, so I had to wrestle guys. They would give me looks, and some of them would try to hurt me.”
Still, wrestling felt right. And the next year, Van Scoyoc turned out to wrestle for her judo coach, James Shrader, who has coached Lakes’ team for seven years.
“I know judo helps, and when I saw her talent, I knew she would do well,” Shrader said.
Van Scoyoc placed third at Mat Classic as a ninth-grader, then came back in 2012 to win the title at 155 pounds.
“I remember looking at the bracket sheet and saying that the girls were all juniors and seniors,” she said. “My dad told me to use it as motivation, and I was like, ‘All right — I’ve got this.’”
Last season, Van Scoyoc said it was hard to maintain her weight, and harder to stay humble.
That caught up with her in the 155-pound championship match when she was pinned by Federal Way’s Luaipou Lologo in 1 minute, 55 seconds on “an easy mistake.”
“So when I went to (Junior) Nationals, I wrestled every girl as a teammate — not to hurt or to demolish her, but to wrestle and do what I love,” Van Scoyoc said.
This year, Van Scoyoc plans to make a final run for a state title, this time in the 170-pound division. She is well-known among the competition, but that just provides motivation.
“A girl came up to me and said, ‘All you do is a head-and-arm (throw),’ so that day, I only did drops to prove I have more than just throws,” Van Scoyoc said.
Shrader said Van Scoyoc’s intelligence is crucial on the wrestling mat.
“She understands strategy and how to put the moves together,” he said. “That’s not something everyone understands.”
Van Scoyoc, an honors student who also swims and throws the shot put for Lakes, plans to study biology and wrestle collegiately. Her top choice is McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill., which added women’s wresting last year.
“I was the beginning of Lakes’ program,” she said. “I don’t want to be part of something already established.”