By: Julie Moreno
Tustin High’s 2014-2015 girls’ wrestling team has skyrocketed due to the increase in girls who joined over this past year. The girls’ team tripled in size over the last couple of years with more and more girls joining each season. There were only about 100 high school girls in wrestling during the early 1990s. Statistics recently showed, however, that over 11,000 girls are wrestling at the high school level. Since 1994, the number of girls who wrestle in high school has increased from 800 to more than 10,000. The Lady Tillers are demonstrating that within every girl lies power and strength. They are pushing away the stereotype that has been placed on women since the early civilizations. Glowing with their dedication, toughness and loyalty to the sport, the Lady Tillers are making headlines for the program.
Wrestlers express their loyalty to wrestling through their hard work on and off the mat, in the same way artists express their creativity through art. Wrestling is the art of physically grappling your opponent and trying to pin her to the ground. This goes all the way back to the ancient Olympic Games. Tustin High’s girls’ wrestling co-captains, seniors Jasmine Cordero and Valeria Moreno, have been dedicated to, and stayed loyal to the wrestling program for the last four years. Cordero describes wrestling as, “Six minutes of nonstop action where your ultimate goal is to mentally and physically break your opponent.” Both Cordero and Moreno have placed in tournaments throughout their years, as well as placing in California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) last year. Cordero is the first girl wrestler at Tustin High to qualify for State. This takes dedication, self-confidence, discipline, sportsmanship, and mental toughness, all of which Cordero possesses.
Moreno defined mental toughness as, “Just because you’re sore doesn’t mean you can’t keep going.” Mental toughness is the ability to push yourself to your limits, even when the mind is shouting “stop.” According to Moreno and Cordero, wrestling has its perks and its downsides. Wrestling, according to Moreno, “Makes everything else easier.” However, Cordero speaks for all wrestlers when she says, “I have no down time.” Wrestling is both beneficial and a drawback, however the positives outweigh the drawbacks.
Co-captains Valeria Moreno and Jasmine Cordero after a successful tournament.
Paloma Lopez (right) ready to wrestle.
Julie Moreno (right) ready to wrestle.
Angela Carrasco (right) pushing for a takedown.
Valeria Moreno (on top) driving for a pin.
Jasmine Cordero (left) driving for a breakdown.
Girl wrestling tournaments are the “real deal.” Their tournaments are different from boys’ tournaments. Boys wrestle based on their level, whereas girls wrestle based solely on their weight class. It doesn’t matter if a wrestler is first year or fourth year. Girls wrestle in their weight class no matter how experienced they are. This is tough on girls who have little experience, but if they practice and learn fast it is possible to place in a tournament. Melissa Apatiga, a first year sophomore, demonstrates this. She has only been on the girls’ wrestling team for a couple of weeks. Apatiga placed fifth in her weight class at her second tournament at Magnolia High School. Before every match she claims, “I get nervous when I start. You’re next to the opponent and you’re like, ‘oh gosh.’” Last year, before her momentous accomplishment, Apatiga competed in Colorguard, but this year she took a big leap and joined wrestling. “Miller said it was going to take hard work. I thought it was okay until I started to get bruises,” Apatiga explained. However, the discoloration of her skin didn’t stop her from quitting. Like all beginning wrestlers, she still struggles with a few techniques, but she learned the sport extremely quickly.
(Left to right) Brittani Salazar, Jacqueline Lopez, Stephanie Gramajo, Paloma Lopez, Melissa Apatiga, Valeria Moreno, Julie Moreno, Mariela Madrigal after a successful tournament at Magnolia. Lopez, Apatiga, and Moreno all placed in the Magnolia tournament.
Brittani Salazar, Mariela Madrigal, Paloma Lopez, Jacqueline Lopez, Angela Carrasco, and Jasmine Cordero killing time at a tournament.
Captains Jasmine Cordero and Valeria Moreno giving a motivational speech before the tournament begins.
Jasmine Cordero showing Tiller sportsmanship.
Mr. Ryan Miller has coached beginner’s wrestling for the past nine years. Coach Miller takes his work very seriously. He will not coach if he does not see commitment. He expects his wrestlers to, “maintain their grades, to be present during practices and tournaments, give effort everyday, strive to be as good as they can, and represent Tustin High and the team.” Miller teaches the girls the same techniques as the boys and values them as equals, but claims that, “With the girls I try to be a little nicer because they might not be as used to being disciplined.” The practices start with stretching and warm ups. Then comes drilling and new techniques. It all ends with live wrestling, which is practicing wrestling competitions and matches. Miller does a good job using this system to coach the lower-level girls: Melissa Apatiga, Arely Martinez, Summer Castillo, Angela Carrasco, Julie Moreno, Jacqueline Lopez, Brittani Salazar, Stephanie Gramajo, and Madeline Buehlmeyer. This system also worked for Varsity girls: Jasmine Cordero, Valeria Moreno, Paloma Lopez, and Mariela Madrigal, who are now coached by Greg Smith. According to Miller, “This is the first time we have had a real girls wrestling team. Jasmine and Valeria have really built it up in the past four years.” The girls’ wrestling program is predicted to continue growing as more people discover the success, competitiveness, and adrenaline rush associated with girls’ wrestling.
Brittani Salazar, Paloma Lopez, Melissa Apatiga, Jasmine Cordero, Coach Greg Smith, Jacqueline Lopez, Julie Moreno, and Mariela Madrigal showing pride for Cordero who placed first in the tournament.
Women’s wrestling is the fastest growing high school sport in the United States, now that more and more girls are discovering it. It teaches self-control, dedication, toughness, and sportsmanship. Our Lady Tiller wrestlers never fail to express this. They are at practice everyday unless they have a real injury or a valid excuse not to be there. Whether they win a match or lose a match, they show great sportsmanship. The Lady Tiller wrestlers will continue to show these attributes on and off the mat. Tustin High’s girls’ wrestling team will continue training and working hard to become future California State Champions.
Tustin High’s girls’ wrestling team: (top row)Madeline Buehlmeyer, (top row left to right) Angela Carrasco, Julie Moreno, Summer Castillo, Stephanie Gramajo, Jacqueline Lopez, (bottom row left to right) Valeria Moreno, Jasmine Cordero, Paloma Lopez, Brittani Salazar, Arely Martinez, Melissa Apatiga and Mariela Madrigal (not in photo).
Photos from Tustin Wrestling’s Instagram account and Facebook page.