Century’s Rei Ogden is a pioneer for girls wrestling in North Dakota. She hit the mat for the first time as an eighth grader, long before the official sanctioning of the sport.

“She doesn’t make as many boys cry as she used to,” Century girls wrestling coach Baron Blanchard said with a laugh. Now it’s mainly girls that she makes cry.”

Ogden’s coach, Baron Blanchard, is the reason she got into the sport, and kept coming back. Now she’s a senior with an undefeated record looking to avenge a third-place state tournament finish from last season.

“State champ has been the goal for a long time,” Ogden said. “It was fuel for this season, just trying to keep my head above water. Try to keep your head up on and off the mats.”

Ogden’s biggest improvements since that loss have come mentally. Blanchard says sometimes it can be hard to rein in Rei, but combining her non-stop intensity with her mental toughness has been the key to success.

“The way I think about it is how meaningful is the handshake we have? then, what’s my first move off the whistle? Can anybody keep me down? No. Again, it’s all mental. You have to be able to go on the mat and just know you’re going to be the one coming off of it with your hand raised,” Ogden explained.

Ogden has already won the two biggest tournaments of the year, and she has one more medal on her mind.

“It definitely keeps my motor rolling on the mats and makes me want to work just a little harder,” Ogden said.

Regardless of how the season ends she already has history on the horizon, after signing with the University of Sioux Falls as part of its inaugural women’s wrestling team.

“The motivator was there was a chance I could be the first All-American, or be a national champ, and then just be able to represent that school like that, I think is pretty awesome,” Ogden said of the future.” For an opportunity to grow the sport and get the name out there, I think that’s pretty cool”

Ogden is making her mark on the sport, and she plans to continue that, with hopes of being a wrestling coach after graduation to teach the next generation.