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Westminster’s Lockslea Mayers continuing her wrestling career at New Jersey City University

Westminster's Lockslea Mayers, top, and Reservoir's Camila Mendez battle in the final of the girls 127 weight class during the 4A/3A East regional wrestling tournament at South River High School on Saturday, Feb. 29.
Westminster's Lockslea Mayers, top, and Reservoir's Camila Mendez battle in the final of the girls 127 weight class during the 4A/3A East regional wrestling tournament at South River High School on Saturday, Feb. 29. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

After seeing images on a TV show about the origins and specifics of structure fires, Lockslea Mayers decided to make a change in plans.

The lifelong horseback rider who aspired to be an equine veterinarian decided to pursue a fire science major when she got to college. Last summer, while prepping for her senior year at Westminster High School, Mayers came across a Division III school located in Jersey City, New Jersey. New Jersey City University’s undergraduate fire science degree is the only university-based program in the state, and one of the few in the country, according to the college’s website.

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Mayers found something else when scouting for NCJU information online ― an article promoting the Gothic Knights’ inaugural women’s wrestling team, which is set to debut next season.

“It was like, ‘Oh no, it’s fate. I have to go toward this school,’” said Mayers, who spent the last two seasons as part of the varsity wrestling team at Westminster High School.

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She recently made her commitment official with NJCU, and she’ll be joining a program led by Elena Pirozhkova, a two-time U.S. Olympic wrestler and former world champion. Mayers said she met with Pirozhkova during her on-campus visit, and talked to the coach about what to expect from someone who decided halfway through high school to give the sport a try.

“I told her at the time I had only had one year of wrestling under my belt,” Mayers said. "[I said], ‘Look, I’m really new, I’m still a super beginner to the sport. But I love it, it’s something I want to do after high school. I’m a hard trainer, fast learner.’

“She was like, ‘Yeah, new program, we’re taking in new girls, and I’d love to have you. Just stay on the mat, keep working hard and we’ll keep in touch.’ And that’s basically how it happened.”

Mayers came into her senior season having just missed placing at a girls invitational state tournament one year earlier. Mayers got her mat time, but didn’t get to compete against many girls. This season was different ― Carroll County featured 19 girls who certified at the start of the year.

Mayers said she learned how to be a better wrestler, with Westminster coach Mike Flemming and her teammates providing guidance and experience.

Mayers took first at 127 pounds at the county’s first official all-girls tournament, Jan. 21 at Winters Mill High School. She finished second at the county tourney and later qualified for the MPSSAA’s inaugural state tourney by taking second at the Class 4A-3A East tournament Feb. 29. Mayers won a match at the state tournament at Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro.

“My senior year was definitely a game-changer for me. My first year, I was just so new, especially going in as a junior and as a girl. It was very intimidating, very tough," Mayers said. "Going into my senior year, I knew what to expect. I had done stuff over the summer to try and help me improve, but I really think my senior year is when I fell in love with it. I want try harder, I want to win. I’ve never wanted to win more.”

Mayers said riding horses never lent itself to lifting weights, but she figured out what needed to be done in order to stay fit for wrestling. Now she’s running on the track at Ruby Field whenever she can before returning home to complete a strength workout.

Mayers said she talked with some friends who serve as volunteer firefighters to get more information about her potential college major, and those conversations put a stamp her her decision. Just as she did when she took up wrestling, Mayers seems ready for the adventure.

“It was a big jump, and very sudden,” she said, “but I was like, ‘Yeah this is it. This is interesting.’”

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