After three state titles, Canton's Carlee Laubach hands in the headgear in favor of DWU volleyball
“I’m a big go-getter on the volleyball court and I’m probably the same way on the wrestling mat,” Laubach said.
RAPID CITY — Canton’s Carlee Laubach has done everything there is to do for a high school girls wrestler in South Dakota.
Three seasons, three championships. Without a loss along the way, winning 83 matches in a row, capped with a title on Feb. 24 in Rapid City.
But even as women’s college wrestling develops in South Dakota and around the country, Laubach is following the family tradition when she gets to the next level. She’s playing volleyball at Dakota Wesleyan University.
Laubach said it was a tough decision and while she loves both sports, she’s loved volleyball longer.
“I thought about wrestling for a while, because I got a few offers to do it,” she said. “I’m good at it and I thought I would be successful with it. But my heart is just with volleyball.”
Not many three-time state wrestling champions around the nation are probably playing another sport in college, let alone making the crossover from wrestling to volleyball. But it’s part of her personality, and her mother, Laurel, played volleyball at Dakota Wesleyan.
“I’m a big go-getter on the volleyball court and I’m probably the same way on the wrestling mat,” the 5-foot-6 Laubach said. “I’m all over the floor in volleyball and I’m always attacking in wrestling. There are a few similarities.”
Laubach said the appeal of playing for a winning program in college was among the top priorities for her, something she got to briefly experience with Canton in 2022, as the C-Hawks had their best season in 30-plus years. At DWU, the Tigers have won 25 games or more the last two seasons, making the NAIA tournament on each occasion, including being one of the last eight teams remaining in 2022 and finishing the season ranked No. 6 nationally.
“Just the idea of getting to a new level and doing some things I didn’t get to do in high school,” Laubach said. “At DWU, I know the program is good. College is a whole new level and it’s going to be awesome.”
In 2022 for Canton, she finished the season as an honorable mention selection for the Class A all-state team, racking up 258 kills, 41 aces and 385 digs. She’s played some libero in high school and might be asked to be a hitter in college. Laubach is also a talented athlete in track and field, as well, participating in relays, the shotput and the discus throw at the 2022 Class A state meet.
“I love wrestling, don’t get me wrong,” she said. “But I’ve always loved volleyball.”
She finished her high school wrestling career with 83 consecutive victories (a data-entry error from a tournament in Nebraska incorrectly shows she had a loss earlier this season). She only had one match all season go the full six minutes, and that was a 10-0 major decision.
At the state tournament, all four matches ended with a pin in the 170-pound class. And only her matchup with Pierre’s Ireland Templeton extended past 60 seconds, making it into the third period before Laubach earned the fall. For her final high school sendoff, Laubach said she had a singular mission in mind.
“My mentality was simple: I have to get that three-peat my senior year,” she said of the tournament. “I was just trying to attack quick. I know what I’ve got to do to get where I need to be and that’s what led me to the title.”
Laubach closes her wrestling career in high school as one of the first four girls in the state to win three state championships, and it’s more than she ever dreamed for her wrestling career, she said.
“It’s just awesome to be a part of this history,” Laubach said. “I wrestled growing up as a kid and I couldn’t have imagined this history and this becoming what it is today. It’s just awesome.”