Wrestling with preconceived notions

Valencia wrestling's Priscilla Ramirez stands outside of Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield after competing in the CIF State Championships on Saturday, Feb. 23. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

Priscilla Ramirez never envisioned herself wrestling. She always considered herself “super girly,” and left the sport to her sister.

But, on Feb. 22, Ramirez concluded her prep wrestling career with Valencia High School at the CIF State Championships in at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield.

“I never would’ve thought I’d even be here,” Ramirez said. “That’s crazy. I just thought I was like, way too girly. I didn’t think that someone like me could do it — but it really changed me.”

Ramirez’s older sister Roxy also wrestled for Valencia, and is a constant supporter of her wrestling. However, her draw to wrestling was intrinsic. She liked the competitiveness and the singularity of the sport.

“I like how it’s one person against another and only one can win; it’s never a tie,” Ramirez said. “I really liked how its always me depending on myself, I can’t blame anyone else. It’s me who doesn’t come to practice; it’s me who didn’t hit the move; it’s me who messed up.”

Her drive to succeed in the sport reached a new level her sophomore year, after she failed to qualify for the state tournament. She missed the cut by one match, falling in the blood round of the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet.

The following year, she was a CIF-Southern Section champion, came in sixth place at the CIF-SS Masters Meet and came in eight place at the CIF State Championships.

This year, she had similar success and qualified for the state tournament. Even though she didn’t surpass last season’s finish, she was still happy with how far she had come as a wrestler.

“Before, I used to go into matches like, so worried that I would lose; and now I’m more confident about stuff and I feel like it’s kind of showed in how I did this year compared to last year,” she said.

Competing in the 121-pound weight class, Ramirez pinned Julia Casillas of Escalon in the Round of 32 before losing by fall to Mt. Whitney’s Ashley Venegas in the Round of 16.

Valencia wrestling’s Priscilla Ramirez stands outside of Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield after competing in the CIF State Championships on Saturday, Feb. 23. Haley Sawyer/The Signal

She continued to the consolation bracket where she pinned Cheyenne Baltagi of Norte Vista and Mykhala Bagler of Elk Grove. Finally, she was eliminated in the next round after losing in an 8-3 decision to Birmingham’s Katie Gomez.

Ramirez said developing her work ethic was a key part in getting her to the state level.

“The drive for me to really like, be my best helps me go back to the gym every day and just make sure I’m putting in all the work that need to so I can really show how good I am.”

Ramirez was one of three girls wrestlers representing Valencia at the state level, along with America Lopez (170) and Shani Tyson (131).

Lopez was the most successful of the group, finishing in sixth place to conclude her sophomore campaign.

Ramirez is considering wrestling in college at Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, or returning to Valencia to help coach Lopez and other potential girls wrestlers.

“Even though I know everyone thinks they can’t do it just because they say they’re not strong enough, but that’s exactly how I was,” Ramirez said. “I didn’t think I’d be strong enough; I didn’t think I’d be tough enough — but it’s like, anyone can do it. There’s different weight classes for everyone and it really brings out character I think. Just showing that you’re not going to get angry and throw a fit when you lose or anything. I think it’s for everybody.”

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