Wrestling season is starting again, but this year Renton High School practices are a little different and a little bigger.
Senior Tabitha Martinez has been hearing about wrestling her whole life. Her brother is a wrestler, and now a coach at her school, Renton High. She said he wanted her to join, but she never thought she’d make the team. Now she knows why you shouldn’t use the word never.
Martinez is one of 10 girls in the first Renton girl’s wrestling team since the school was opened in 1911.
Jeric Liam, a senior and wrestler at Renton, said he thought of the idea after seeing girls wrestling at Dimmitt Middle School last spring, where he attended class. He heard from the girls they would need to wrestle at a different high school to continue the sport. Then he saw two girls join the Renton wrestling team this year, and figured it was a good time to campaign for a full girls team.
Liam also said it wasn’t just him starting the team, but also the girls who joined and the other students who shared the post.
By posting on social media including Instagram, and having it in the morning high school announcements, he was able to get attention to the sport. He got a lot of dismissive responses at first, but then he got Martinez to help share one of his posts, asking Renton girls if they “wanted to make history.” This is the first girl’s wrestling team since the turn of the century. The Instagram story received about 170 shares. The team needed eight girls to start, but ended up recruiting 10.
Renton Freshman Alexandra Buenbrazo saw the Instagram post and joined with her friend Myranda Moran. She said it felt like the sport was something she could try that was out of character for her. In just the first two weeks of practice, she’s learned a lot. Before this she had participated in cross country.
Martinez said the training has been hard physically and mentally, but she’s been able to push herself and others to their limits while having fun. And she said she keeps herself motivated, and wants to pursue it possibly as far as college. Before this she played soccer, basketball and track at Renton.
She said it’s been great to see girls who haven’t been recognized as athletic before come join the wrestling team. Martinez hopes that girls will push themselves and join the team for themselves.
Martinez’ friend and fellow senior Beanca Medrano joined the team with her. Medrano said she was scared at first: she’s four-foot-nine and wasn’t sure how her softball skills would transfer to wrestling. But the idea of joining felt so empowering, she decided “Why not me?” She said practice has been hard, especially sprints, but she’s pulled through and gone as hard as she could.
“I want to leave something (before I graduate), so it’s great we have a whole team of girls and just like starting the process of that. I guess you could say we made history but like, it feels good,” Medrano said. “I want to show: even I can do it, so why can’t they?”
The team is set, but due to how late they started, they don’t have any tournaments for this season. Some of the players will get exhibition matches and participate in games when they can.
“This could get the ball-rolling for having a girl’s team from now on. The team has fresh eyes, so I hope next year it will keep getting more new girls,” Liam said.
Buenbrazo said it feels like a great opportunity to be a part of the girls wrestling team, and in the future she will continue to try to get some friends to join who are hesitant about the sport due to the strength required. To those students, she encourages them to have a better mindset, try it out and see for themselves.