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The Vikings junior won a state wrestling championship in just her second year of competition.

PMG PHOTO - Forest Grove's Makaila Takahashi runs the pitch during a Viking soccer game last year. The junior has three times earned all-league honors.Makaila Takahashi is a state champion, and she's just getting started.

The Forest Grove High School wrestler made that dream a reality at this year's OWA Women's State Championships. She says there's still room to improve.

"I just want to get better," Takahashi said. "I love sports and I'm just super excited to keep working to get better and have fun."

Takahashi is the daughter of athletic parents. Her father, Guy, is the varsity wrestling coach at Forest Grove High and wrestled at Pacific University, while her mother Vallie was a college athlete, playing softball for Pacific. Their athletic backgrounds have paid dividends for Makaila, who has taken to her parents' tireless work ethic. She understanding the benefits of hard work.

The family exercises regularly during the week, getting up early in the morning to lift weights before school.

And while not always easy, Makaila said it's simply a part of a lifestyle she's become accustomed to.

"I love lifting," she said. "It's part of my routine. We wake up at 5 a.m., lift, I get ready and go to school, then I have my practices afterward."

Takahashi said training has undoubtedly paid off. PMG FILE PHOTO - Forest Grove's Makaila Takahashi wrestles during a meet her sophomore season. The junior won a state wrestling title in just her second season in the sport.The senior-to-be wrestles — typically — in the winter, is an all-league soccer player for the Viks in the fall and competes in track and field events in the spring, where she runs sprints, does the triple jump and throws the javelin. She said her training has been equally beneficial on and off the field. It helps her mindset before, during and after a competition.

"It obviously helps to be stronger, but it also helps in other ways," Takahashi said. "When I go in for a tackle in soccer or I'm going against someone in any sport, it gives me confidence knowing that I'm strong and that I'm less likely to get hurt."

Takahashi has been wrestling for just two years, but in a very short time has thrust herself to the forefront of the Oregon high school wrestling world. She finished third at the state meet in her sophomore season, then this year leapt to the head of the class, winning the 135-pound weight division at last month's state championships. But while a quick learner, it was by no means easy for her in the beginning.

"I was terrified," Takahashi said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect, and I didn't want to disappoint anybody."

She was so terrified that at her first event during her sophomore campaign, she couldn't muster the courage to take the mat.

"I was so scared I sat down and was like, 'Dad, I'm sorry, but I can't wrestle today," she said. "Then I sat and watched the entire tournament and I was like, 'OK, I think I got this.' And at the next tournament I was still scared, but I got out there and did what I had learned, and felt pretty good about it."

She's always felt good about soccer, which she has played most of her life. Takahashi has earned her stripes on the pitch, securing honorable mention all-conference honors her freshman year and first-team all-conference honors following both her sophomore and junior seasons.

This past season the Vikings had a young team that finished second in the Pacific Conference with a 7-3-1 record. After losing three of their first four games, the Viks went 6-0-1 to end the year and that finish, coupled with the bulk of the team returning, has Takahashi excited for this fall's campaign.

COURTESY PHOTO - Forest Grove's Makaila Takahashi (middle) accepts her first place medal during the OWA state wrestling championships last month."I'm super excited for next season and am going to be honored to lead that team as a captain," Takahashi said. "I think we have a special group and we have a lot of talent. We're still going to be fairly young, but I really couldn't be more excited to see how this season is going to play out."

Takahashi said she loves the individual aspect of wrestling, but in a different way enjoys being the comradre team sports like soccer bring.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself in wrestling, but now I get to go back and kind of relax and have a little bit more fun with my teammates," she said. "We all work together and it's fun to be a part of a team and hopefully something special."

Successful on her own on the mat and with her teammates on the pitch, Takahashi said she'd be nothing without her parents to help her along the way.

"I couldn't be where I am without (my parents)," she said. "They've always taken me where I need to go, and they've helped me so much with my mentality and through encouragement. I really enjoy having my parents there all the time."

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