CASCADE — According to Montana High School Association figures released earlier this month, there are 169 girls competing in the first year that girls wrestling was sanctioned as an official high school sport.
But in Great Falls, there is only one. That would be Great Falls High freshman Kaylin Taylor.
The first thing you’ll notice about Taylor is her signature sense of style, exemplified by the bright, colorful and loud socks she wears every time she steps on the mat.
"I've been wearing rainbow socks at a lot of my tournaments since at least seventh grade,” she said. “But I have a lot of other crazy socks that I like to wear.”
She’s not kidding. In middle school tournaments, Taylor would frequently rock dyed pink hair and a Wonder Woman singlet. To this day, she continues to draw compliments from opponents and fans alike.
“Just a little bit ago in my last match, she was telling me how she liked my socks,” Taylor said.
Her flair for style is matched only by her talent on the mat. Taylor is ranked No. 1 in the state at 103 pounds in the most recent all-class poll, and is undefeated against female wrestlers so far in 2021.
Like most girl wrestlers, she spent most of her youth wrestling against males. And it helped her prepare for her first season of high school.
“There's a lot of different tactics that boys and girls use, and I feel like a lot of the girls are a lot more flexible so it's harder in that sense,” Taylor said. “This is my ninth year wrestling total, but it's a lot different in high school. I get a lot more matches with girls, especially since it's sanctioned now.”
Taylor will be Great Falls High’s only representative at the first-ever girls state tournament next weekend. And despite being the only girl in the wrestling room, her Bison pride is strong.
“It feels good. I'm glad to be on that team and the coaches are great, the teammates are really great,” she said. “I wish there was more girls on my team, but it feels good to be part of the Bison.”
Second-year Great Falls High coach Luis Carranza calls Taylor “tough as nails” with a bright future.
Montana has a hallowed wrestling history. The list of four-time state champions is a pretty exclusive club, with just 36 names etched in the record books. But with the addition of a girls state tournament, Taylor has her eyes on becoming the first female four-timer.
“I hope I can get first place this year,” she said. “A first state championship would be really good, especially for my team. And then I hope I can continue on these next four years and then on into college.”
The first girls state tournament begins Friday, Feb. 19 in Lockwood.