• October 25, 2014

KDH Wrestler of the Year Family-inspired work ethic drives Shoemaker’s Maya Little to back-to-back trips to state tourney

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Posted: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:06 am

Once she started her high school career at Shoemaker, Maya Little had some expectations to live up to.

Her father Maurice Little was a state qualifier for William Penn High School in 1978.

But once all was said and done, she ended up leaving her own impressive legacy.

“I didn’t try to live up to it (legacy), but since I’m very competitive, I tried to be better than my brother and my dad,” Little said. “No offense, Dad, but I had to work hard to be better than him.”

Little put together two runs to the state tournament, including a fourth-place finish in the girls 128-pound division this year. For her efforts, Little is the Killeen Daily Herald Wrestler of the Year for the 2013-14 season.

“I thought it was very wonderful,” Little said about her season. “It was due to all of the hard work that my team has had, all the practices we’ve been through, the coaching. All of that stuff has been a great experience for me.”

Little qualified for the state meet in Austin as a junior in 2013 and senior in Garland in February.

The venue may have been different, but the stakes were still the same and Little said the experience was a big factor in her improved result as a senior.

“I had a very different feeling since I was one of the main seniors to go,” Little said. “The area changed so the venue was different. It just gave me a whole new technological feel.”

Little opened the state tournament with a win over Arlington’s Elizabeth Taylor then pinned Houston Bellaire’s Darla Allen in 5:46 to clinch a spot in the state semifinal match. Little was defeated by Felicity Bryant of Amarillo Tascosa.

Little defeated Converse Judson’s Jazmyn Tolber in the consolation bracket before losing to Allen in the third-place match.

A total of seven members of the Shoemaker wrestling team qualified for the state tournament, including two alternates, and Little had the best finish of 12 total area qualifiers.

Shoemaker head wrestling coach Ken Soloff said Little’s work ethic didn’t just show up during meets.

“She was instrumental in bringing quality wrestling to the practices and bringing athleticism to the practices,” Soloff said. “Over the last two years she took to heart the legacy of our program and didn’t want to let it down.”

Little said there was no feeling quite like that of being on the mat and tussling with an opponent.

But her days of fighting aren’t done as she plans on serving in the U.S. Navy after graduating from high school.

Those are her real world plans.

As for the hypothetical world, she’s confident about what would happen if she faced her 98-pound high school-aged father on the mat.

“I would have a pound advantage, but he would still beat me,” Little said.

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