Pizzo continuing stellar career as lone girl on Clawson High wrestling team

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published January 9, 2017

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CLAWSON — The sibling rivalries growing up weren’t unique, but the lopsidedness was something Katlyn Pizzo always had to deal with.

The lone girl with three brothers, she was constantly outnumbered — to say the least.

That fact remains unchanged today for Pizzo, and she’d have it no other way.

“She can seem like that cute little girl, a great student and all that. But when she gets out on the mat, something changes,” Clawson High wrestling coach Terry Downs said of Pizzo, the lone girl on his varsity squad. “She’s mean as heck, and she doesn’t take losing lightly. She’s just a fierce competitor.”

From childhood until now, Pizzo, a senior in the 103-pound weight class, hasn’t backed down from a single challenge on the mat.

“When I’m out there, I just see myself as another wrestler,” she said simply. “I don’t see a boy or anyone having any advantages over me.”

Her record speaks for itself.

At press time, Pizzo was 14-3, and just recently earned her 100th career victory.

“She’s a competitor, a cross country kid who has that stamina,” Downs added. “Wrestling, like cross country, is a sport where you’re really one on one. It’s on you to succeed.”

“I wrestled all summer and never really took a break,” Pizzo said when asked what has been key for her success this year. “I think that helps. And I do run cross country, so I have that stamina. I may not be as strong or as good as the person I’m wrestling, but if I can get late into the match, I feel I’m conditioned enough to have an advantage.”

The summer experience has also been a huge boost for Pizzo.

She qualified and took part in the Pan American Games in Peru.

“It was crazy. It was a lot of freestyle wrestling, which I was just learning,” Pizzo said. “I was able to qualify at the end of the school year, and after a camp in Georgia, we left for Peru. Just being at that level, and being around people who devote their lives to this sport, it was awesome.”

Pizzo said the experience has done wonders for her this season.

“It’s been big, especially with my mental state,” she added. “There were times last year I’d freak out if I wasn’t winning. Now, I think more, not focusing so much on winning or losing, but finding ways to earn points.”

The strategy has worked for Pizzo, who’s taken first place at the Warren Lincoln tournament, an event at Roseville High, and recently placed sixth at the Macomb County Invitational.

“She’s had matches where she’s getting beat, and badly, and she will flip things quickly and steal a win,” Downs said. “And at the same time, she’s not going to gloat or celebrate. She gets back to the sideline and focuses.”

Her focus now centers on the rest of her senior season and qualifying for the state tournament for the second year in a row.

But that’s hardly where it ends.

“Just making it again isn’t good enough for me,” Pizzo said. “I want to earn All-State.”

Grapplers who finish in the top eight earn the recognition.

“Winning a state title is the No. 1 thing, and she’s that good,” Downs said. “That is a goal she can accomplish. A girl has never won a state title, and she could be the first.”

Pizzo said she’s slowly starting to believe in herself in that regard, improving enough every time out to where she thinks a state championship could be on the horizon.

What she knows, though, is a long future in the sport.

“I’m going to wrestle in college,” she added. “I’m not sure where yet, but I know I want to. Someday, my dream is to make the Olympics. This is a sport I plan to be doing for a long, long time.”

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