“He got me interested in wrestling,” Topps said.
Topps and Pugh watched professional wrestling together as middle-schoolers. Because Topps already enjoyed being involved with contact sports — “I like to fight,” she said — her interest in wrestling continued to grow.
“We watched WWE together,” Topps said. “It just really grew on me. … I took karate lessons and wanted to join kickboxing, so just being involved in physical sports was something I wanted to do.”
Pugh and Topps eventually decided they would wrestle in high school.
“It was easier to join the wrestling team than anything else physically that I wanted to do,” Topps said. “I tried to start in middle school, but my mom didn’t take me seriously. I told her I’d start in ninth grade, and she was OK with that.”
Topps, a 5-foot-1 senior at North Cobb, has gone the distance. Pugh, a sophomore at South Cobb, wasn’t as fortunate.
“He tried out as a freshman but lasted a week or two and didn’t want to do it anymore,” Topps said. “I stayed with it, though, and he’s supported me.”
Topps has also participated in lacrosse and track and field at North Cobb. She competed in gymnastics from the time she was 5 years old, sticking with it through eighth grade.
Starting on North Cobb’s junior varsity team as a freshman, Topps has wrestled at 106 pounds for the past three seasons. She’s one of six seniors on the Warriors’ roster, and she has earned the respect of her teammates, who have twice voted Topps as a team captain.
“I feel like I have to practice what I preach to the guys,” Topps said. “I want to be a good leader for them.”
Steve Day, in his first year at North Cobb after a long tenure at Lassiter, appreciates what Topps has brought to the team.
“They’re all wrestlers in my program. She just happens to be a girl,” Day said. “Her work ethic is great, and she’s very focused the way she gets ready for matches. I would have loved to have had her for four years. Her flexibility is good in top positions and she’s in shape.”
Topps has enjoyed wrestling for a few reasons.
“I like that it teaches you to be tough physically as well as mentally,” she said. “It’s taught me how to handle myself if something happens.”
With a record of 10-14 on the season between the 106-, 113- and 120-pound weight classes, Topps is possibly entering the final week of her North Cobb wrestling career. The Area 4AAAAAA traditional tournament begins today at McEachern, meaning Topps has one last chance to grab a spot on the podium and make next week’s sectional. She received a No. 4 seed for the area meet.
“I want to make sectionals this year,” said Topps, who tied for seventh in the county tournament. “That’s one of my goals. Another goal I have is to finish in first place at the women’s state meet. My best finish there was in third place as freshman, so it would be nice to win a championship.”
Topps has aspirations on continuing her career in college. There are several schools affiliated with the Women’s College Wrestling Association that could give her that opportunity.
“I want to get a wrestling scholarship and major in oceanography,” Topps said. “I’d like to continue wrestling if I can. It’s hard work, but I enjoy it.”