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Tyanna Soucy finds a boxing fix while she waits for wrestling

"Wrestling is probably going to be the last sport to come back."

Such is reality in the world of Western Mustangs' sophomore Tyanna Soucy, the graduate of Marymount Academy who capped off her first year of university competition with a bronze medal performance at the U Sport championships just weeks before the pandemic rolled in.

"I'm hoping for next year (2021) - but even then, we don't know," added Soucy.

Given how year one of varsity sports played out for Soucy, perhaps none of this should surprise us.

A relatively late arrival in the world of competitive wrestling - the 19 year-old did not pick up the sport in earnest until midway through her high-school career - Soucy would climb the ranks quickly, earning provincial accolades in her very first year.

In November of 2019, she was sidelined with a concussion, missing qualifying tournaments and not returning to the mat until after Christmas. After dropping in weight class while at Marymount, Soucy would be bumped to the 82kg grouping as a rookie at Western.

All things considered, it would be hard for her to complain about a fourth place finish at the OUA championships in February. The news got even better a week later.

Despite not earning a berth at nationals via her provincial performance, Soucy would get the nod when the Atlantic contingent came up short of entries in her bracket. The talkative teen responded with a third place finish when pitted against the very best in the country.

"It was totally different from high-school or club wrestling," Soucy confessed. "It's just a bigger game. They are serious, serious wrestlers. You see things that you haven't seen before."

"It took me a little while to get comfortable."

Still very much in development mode, Soucy would place her trust in the Mustang coaching staff. "They spent a good couple of weeks getting a feel for just how we wrestled, as individuals, who we are as wrestlers, our style."

"There were a lot of things that I altered. They changed things like my steps moving into a shoulder throw. They didn't try and change my style altogether, but worked more to improve it, making it faster."

"As a heavyweight, you can't always get on your knees and do leg shots," Soucy added. "I had to learn to do, sort of almost greco wrestling, but more learning how to throw, how to use your hands properly, how to use your upper body."

Despite the tangents along the way, Soucy was well-prepared to travel to the Open Canadian Championships in April - until the entire world was turned on its axis.

"The longest I have ever taken off the mats is about two months," said Soucy. "It was so hard over the summer, trying to stay in shape, trying to figure out what was going to happen."

"Not being able to do my sport has proven extremely challenging."

"I came home and tried to do home workouts, but I was losing motivation to try and keep it together," she continued. "And in a home environment, there was always food around, so it became tougher and tougher to stay in my athletic shape."

Though on-line classes were available, Soucy returned to London in September. Early signs were promising: outdoor workouts, track training, anything to help keep the team in shape.

But then the pandemic worsened, the snow came and finding a light at the end of the tunnel became harder and harder.

So when two female teammates approached Soucy about boxing training, the northern talent was all ears. "Count me in, I told them - I'll do anything right now," she said. "That's when my whole boxing journey kind of started."

"I just wanted to make sure that I was in really good shape so that when I get back to the mat, I can really focus on getting back into the technique and not have to worry about getting back into shape, working on my endurance."

"Boxing helps with endurance and cardio, and maybe even teaches me some new things that may be related to wrestling."

In the eyes of Tyanna Soucy, boxing may have presented, initially, a chance to do something, anything. Within a matter of weeks, it quickly became "the thing" for the young wrestler to do.

"The workouts that we do are insane," she said. "The explosiveness is really helping. When I am doing strength and conditioning with my boxing coach, even just punching the bag, it's all about being explosive."

"It's not just about the hands, but how much your hips and core can deliver into that one punch. In wrestling, you need to be explosive."

With wrestling at a complete standstill, the pursuit of a new combat sport could not have come at a better time for Soucy. "I think it's my out during the pandemic," she said. "It was a great idea that one of my friends brought up and we just flew with it."

"It's something that I would definitely pursue further."

In the meantime, the turn of the calendar signals the beginning of the second term for Soucy and her Mustang wrestling mates. And while their time together is limited, it's still a preferred option to staying in Sudbury.

"I'm definitely going back to London (in January)," she said. "I have better focus there, being with friends that are constantly working out, pushing me to be my best."

"I feel that this is the environment I really need to be around, right now."

And with a return to wrestling nowhere in sight, boxing is something, perhaps everything, for Tyanna Soucy.

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