Erin Locke is made of iron.
Her combination of work ethic and addiction for competition is unbreakable.
The cerebral assassin never missed a practice or a meet in four years of high school. She also kept her GPA above 3.5, while qualifying for the postseason four times.
By meeting all of that criteria, Locke became the first female to win Washougal High School wrestling’s Ultimate Ironman award.
“This means more to me than any other medal of placement,” she said. “It’s something I’m most proud of.”
Locke went to all of the required practices when she was a freshman. She thought about skipping the optional one, before a heart to heart with her father changed her mind.
“My dad asked me, ‘Do you want to be successful?’ I said ‘yes.’ He said, ‘Then it’s not optional for you.’ That just stuck in my head,” Locke said. “There are always going to be days when you don’t want to go to practice. You just have to take it one day at a time. Get through practice today, come back tomorrow and do it again.”
As the team captain this season, Locke helped the Panthers become Clark County, sub regional and regional champions. Washougal also finished in sixth place at the Mat Classic, against 98 other schools from around the state.
“The great thing about this team is that everybody wants it just as bad as you do. Together, you can all push each other to the next level,” Locke said. “As long as you do your best every single day, you can take satisfaction in knowing you left it all on that mat.”
Head coach Heather Carver said Locke is everything this trophy symbolizes.
“This is so much more than just winning matches. This is about the whole person,” Carver said. “The first time I saw Erin, she was just this determined Tasmanian devil. She’s relentless and stubborn. You can still see that same Tasmanian devil, but she has gained strength, balance, direction and purpose. She’s like a tree filling out in the spring.”
Locke can only find one drawback to this award. It brings a sense of finality to her high school wrestling career.
“You did this every day for four years and you loved it. Now, it’s all over,” she said. “I don’t like the fact that it’s over, but it’s been a great chapter in my life.”
One thing’s for sure, Erin Locke will never stop being a learner and a competitor. It’s in her blood. Her father, Mel Locke, owns a black belt in Brazilian Jujitsu. He also continues to develop minds at his Universal MMA Complete Training Center, in downtown Camas.
Erin puts in the time at her father’s facility as a student and an instructor. She is also getting ready for college. In the meantime, the senior has one more season on the pole vault for the Panthers.
There are only five Ultimate Ironmen at Washougal. Erin Locke joins the tradition of excellence with Rod Liedkie (1994), Travis Klass (1997), Lukas Johnson (2006) and Greg Barrette (2009).
“It’s crazy because there are so few names on there,” she said. “It’s not unreachable. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication every day, but I’m living proof that you can do it.”