University of Jamestown women's wrestler Rayana Sahagun has made quite a name for herself on the popular social media app TikTok.

Since joining the app, Sahagun has amassed over 233,000 followers, with her videos receiving over 4.3 million likes.

“All my friends were using the app, and I just thought it was fun to make these silly little videos,” Sahagun said. “It started with me just posting every now and then…eventually I checked on the app, and one of my videos somehow had thousands of likes. A few weeks went by and I gained about 50,000 followers. Progressively, I just kept on making videos and every now and then one would blow up, and I’d gain a following from it.

“I had a video that had over six million views, I don’t know how that happened, but it did, and I ended up getting 233,000 followers.”

Sahagun used to have a schedule for putting out new content, but now she just makes them when she has free time, and has more of a relaxed time frame.

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Despite using TikTok as a fun outlet for creativity, Sahagun still has her share of detractors.

“I’ll have people messaging me saying that I’m inspiring to them for my wrestling content, then I’ll get some messages from people telling me negative things, saying that I’m not really a good wrestler because I’m wrestling females,” Sahagun said. “I don’t really know how to respond to those [messages].”

University of Jamestown's Rayana Sahagun, top, wrestles teammate, AnnMarie Hidalgo, in the title match of the 109-pound weight class  during the KCAC Tournament Feb. 27, 2021, at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun
University of Jamestown's Rayana Sahagun, top, wrestles teammate, AnnMarie Hidalgo, in the title match of the 109-pound weight class during the KCAC Tournament Feb. 27, 2021, at Harold Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun

There have been some positives, though. Sahagun qualified for a creator fund on TikTok, due to the amount of followers she has combined with the number of likes her videos have received. As long as the video analytics continue in a positive direction, she gets paid for that. Every time Sahagun goes live on the app for thirty minutes to an hour, she can make money based on how many people are watching.

Paying attention to what kinds of content generate more views and likes influences what Sahagun puts out for her followers.

“I’ll see what tends to get more likes…if it gets more likes, then I’ll know to start creating more videos like that,” Sahagun said. “If it’s not getting many likes, then I’ll usually just take it down.”

Sahagun has done more than enough on the mat this season to silence her critics.

The freshman from Rockford, Mich., won the 109-pound bracket at the Grand View (Iowa) Open in February, defeating three top-10 nationally-ranked opponents. She pinned second-ranked Asia Ray of Wayland Baptist University in the quarterfinals, then pinned No. 10 Jessica Corredor of Missouri Baptist in the semifinals. In the championship match, Sahagun defeated seventh-ranked Chloe Krebsbach of Grand View by 5-3 decision.

For her efforts, Sahagun earned NAIA Wrestler of the Week honors and went from unranked to the second spot in the national 109-pound ratings. She added another first-place finish the following week at the Warrior Open in Fremont, Neb. Then, for good measure, Sahagun won the KCAC Championship on February 27 in Jamestown and headed into this weekend’s NAIA National Invitational at the University of Jamestown's Newman Arena with a record of 9-0.

For now, Sahagun has her attention focused on nationals.

“I think it’s very exciting that it’s being held here (in Jamestown),” Sahagun said, “because it’s more of a comfortable feel.

“There’s going to be a lot of teams here, which is insane. Growing up, I never saw that many female wrestlers in my state alone, so going to national tournaments, it was cool seeing a bunch of girls."

The women's wrestling national invite began Friday morning and runs through Saturday. The championships are scheduled for Saturday evening.

“I’m just really looking forward to competing at nationals for the first time.”