The brutal, competitive and fun moments of girls’ wrestling


Raisa Guerrero Cardenas

A wrestler smiles during a practice dual with a friend on Feb. 11.

Entering the main gym, all lights are dim, except for one bright light in the middle where there is a mat. You would wonder what it’s for.

Looking up is a crowd mumbling, they seem more excited and nervous than the players. Right when you take a seat, the referee blows a whistle — grabbing each person’s attention.  

The first match begins, the LQ crowd is cheering loudly and you can feel chills running down your spine. You can hear the cheerleaders on the other side of the gym shaking their pom-poms. The energy that is coming from the gym feels like you are on a rollercoaster with so much suspense.

 Not knowing who the players are yet, but knowing how the crowds sound, it surely must be exciting. On one side of the gym stands La Quinta High School, fearless and hungry like the black hawk hunting for prey. On the other side stands Shadow Hills High School, high and mighty like the knight standing for honor. 

A wrestler walks out of the gym to take a breather on Friday, Feb. 11 during the CIF Masters. Raisa Guerrero Cardenas

Both coaches are screaming at the top of their lungs, supporting and guiding their wrestlers. Everything’s happening so fast, there is so much you can take in.  The opposing team really wants to beat LQ. 

In the second match, Jedzy Gutierrez ‘24 steps to the mat, wearing LQ’s school colors and pride. Her head is up high and right when she is in the middle of the mat with her opponent; she is in a squatting stance. 

Right when the referee blows the whistle, Gutierrez starts to grab the opponent’s arms and tries to put her on the floor. This goes on for another 30 seconds when the opponent tries to grab Gutierrez’s leg. but she is quick to act. 

She grabs her opponent’s ankle into a lock. Now they are in a position called the “double.’’

As Gutierrez explained, the double is something to do to win. Gutierrez is now on top of her opponent and has her in a headlock. She is moving from side to side as her opponent tries to break free. You can see the referee is on the floor trying to see if the opponent has touched the floor with her full body. The referee blows the whistle and Gutierrez wins her match. The referee lifts Gutierrez’s arm which causes a loud roar from the crowd. 

Gutierrez is a wrestler for La Quinta High, a sophomore and a triplet. She had been wrestling for three months but she had been taking mixed martial arts before joining the team. 

One of the reasons why she joined the girls’ wrestling team was because she liked to fight and have fun.

Two wrestlers prepare before the CIF Championships on Feb. 11. Raisa Guerrero Cardenas

She won a DVL title for second place on Saturday, Dec. 11. 

She had been training hard for herself and the team. Her training regiment was to spar, stretch and do drills. She also runs to get endurance. 

Gutierrez is not involved in any outside sports, she is fully committed to wrestling. She is not just a great wrestler but also is doing very well academically. Gutierrez is enrolled in honor classes and last semester, her GPA was higher than 4.0.

“I’m planning to go to UCLA or UC Berkeley because they have very good architecture programs, and if I get a scholarship, I will take it for wrestling or academically,’’ Gutierrez said.  

Gutierrez’s routine before a game with her team is “warming up, praying, and laying in the mat and hitting the mat many times and saying, ‘one, two, three, family!’’’ 

She loves to finish tournaments and explained that they fight a lot which can be stressful, but they eat afterward.

“I don’t have a role model at the moment but being trained by Coach Paul Vasquez,” she said. 

Her favorite part about winning is when the referee lifts her hand to show her off. 

Gutierrez is not just a wrestler, though. 

“I am a painter,’’ she said. 

A wrestler gets into the mindset of her sport. Raisa Guerrero Cardenas

Gutierrez’s advice for others to come see matches. 

She said,  “If you come to the matches, then you are cool and you should join the team. It’s fun and there is no bad blood.’’

The next match is about to begin. 

Jayda Smith ‘25 is up next. 

She reaches the mat but there is no opponent to face, so the opponent team has to withdraw.  

As Smith walks slowly off the mat, she still has fiery eyes ready to face off, even though she did not get an opportunity to rally the crowd but they still show their support as she walks off the mat. Her fellow wrestlers also show support as well by reminding her that everything was going to be okay and patting her on the back. 

Smith is a ninth-grader and has been wrestling for four months. Smith loves the sport; she said it’s one of the best decisions she’s made: to join the girls’ wrestling team. She was actually not interested in the sport but joined through a dare. 

When I joined the wrestling team, I didn’t have many friends. But once I joined, everyone was just so welcoming and kind.

— Jayda Smith '25

“It was a dare for me to join because my friend was on the wrestling team,” said Smith. “She thought I wouldn’t do it but I signed up and fell in love with it. It’s crazy.’’ 

Smith has not yet won any DVL or CIF titles but is working hard to get one. Her training regimen is to run, stretch, then work with her partners on drills. 

“We do double singles,” she said. “Doubles is like going for both legs and singles is when going for one leg, which makes our opponents break down on their knees. I also do pinning combinations on how to get my opponent on her back to win.”

Even after being a wrestler for four months, Smith still is experiencing all the ups and downs. 

“Everyone thinks the sport is so simple,” Smith said, “but it’s actually a really hard sport and it’s very brutal. I have gotten a few bruises all over my body.’’

A team of wrestlers stretches during practice before the CIF matches on Feb. 11. Raisa Guerrero Cardenas

The most satisfying aspect of being involved with the wrestling team, for many of the girls, is making friends. 

“When I joined the wrestling team, I didn’t have many friends. But once I joined, everyone was just so welcoming and kind. They are supportive and always believe in [us] and give a lot of good advice on what to do in our matches,’’ said Smith.

Her most memorable event was during her first tournament: it was at Hemet, and she won her first two matches but lost the other two. She had four matches in total. 

Advice that Smith would give students at La Quinta High School is to believe in themselves, and to, of course, join wrestling. 

“Believe in yourself,” she said. “If you join our wrestling team, it can be very brutal. But if you really commit to the sport, then you will love the sport and it helps you build stamina and gives you a good workout.’’