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Joe Buettner | The Norman Transcript | April 26, 2019

How wrestling shaped Jocelyn Alo into an Oklahoma softball star

College softball plays of the week

It's New Year's Eve in Hauula, Hawaii. Fireworks decorate the sky above a home hosting roughly 100 people. And as the calendar flips to Jan. 1, 2018, Jocelyn Alo hugs her father.

Alo had yet to start her first season with the Oklahoma softball team. But as she shared the opening minutes of the new year with her dad, Levi Alo, she told him she would hit 25 home runs as a freshman.

"All right," Levi recalls telling his daughter, "It's on."

Jocelyn Alo ultimately didn't finish with 25 home runs in 2018. Rather, she recorded 30 homers, tying an NCAA Division I freshman single-season record.

"Oh man," Levi Alo said, "such a proud moment as a dad."

Jocelyn Alo continues to make her father proud as a vital cog to the top-ranked Sooners' success. She hit two home runs vs. Wichita State on Wednesday to help the Sooners set a new program for most consecutive wins.

Alo and OU now have a Big 12 series at Iowa State this weekend with two weekends left on the regular-season schedule.

But before Alo dedicated herself exclusively to softball and became one of coach Patty Gasso's most powerful hitters, she first had to overcome Sarah Miner.

Jocelyn Alo can't remember what age she was -- maybe four or five years old. But she remembers her father putting her in wrestling.

Alo's three sisters -- Sabrina, Lorraine and Sophia -- wrestled as well, and for reasons Levi Alo thought would help his daughters beyond the mat.

"I love the sport," Levi Alo said. "I knew that if they could wrestle and handle wrestling practice that they could do anything they wanted to because ain't no practice like a wrestling practice."

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Jocelyn Alo had a knack for the sport, but she retired from wrestling after her sophomore year.

She went out as a winner, claiming a state championship in the 184-pound girls division against Miner.

The challenges the Sooner sophomore overcame as a wrestler are helping her as she navigates life as one of college softball's top underclassmen.

"It definitely (helped) my mental toughness," Jocelyn Alo said of wrestling. "I remember this one week, I had to cut 15 pounds in a week and a half and literally not having to eat the whole week. Just staying tough and knowing if I lose these pounds that I'll be able to do what I want to do.

"Just being mentally tough and disciplined goes a long way with wrestling and softball."

As much as wrestling helped shape Jocelyn Alo, the opportunities to wrestle for young girls are limited in Oklahoma.

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An Oklahoma high school girls wrestling division doesn't exist. Although, Broken Arrow High School announced it's creating the state's first varsity high school girls wrestling program earlier this month. And not too far from Norman, Little Axe senior Haileigh Marcon is signed to wrestle at Ottawa University in Kansas.

It's unclear how many high schools will follow Broken Arrow's lead, but Jocelyn Alo hopes more chances to wrestle emerge for young girls.

"I knew I wanted to do it in high school," Jocelyn Alo said. "I know a lot of girls don't get that opportunity, especially here in the mainland. But in Hawaii, it's super popular. I think it's awesome promoting guy sports that women can do too."

This article is written by Joe Buettner from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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