Next weekend, junior and high school wrestlers from across the state will compete in Yukon. And for the first time, the event will hold a division just for girls.
“I'm super, super excited,” said Valerie Vallejo, a wrestler at Yukon High School. “I hope a lot of girls come. I just can't wait.”
Vallejo is the only girl among 65 students on the Yukon High School wrestling team. But she’s not intimidated.
"They’re super nice and they care about me and they’re basically my family," she said.
“It's hard. It's not for everyone,” said Vallejo.
The high school senior said the workouts and practices are tough, but they don’t stop her from hitting the mat.
“After practice, you have this great feeling of working out, and you feel like so great and energized,” she said.
When she competes, she uses that energy to try to break her opponent, usually a boy.
“They're super strong but my coaches always tell me ‘you have to be faster and don't let their strength mess with your wrestling,’” Vallejo said.
Yukon High School wrestling head coach Joe Schneider would like to see more girls like Vallejo enter the sport.
“She's a battler, a fighter every day, great competitor,” he said. “It's really neat to see when one girl goes against another one.”
Right now, all Oklahoma public schools with wrestling teams are co-ed, but Yukon hopes to level the playing field with an upcoming tournament. This year, for the first time, the OSSAA-sanctioned event will offer a girl’s only division.
“There's girls that are competing. It's coming; it's happening,” Schneider said. “I think we need to be jumping on it, be the front-runner of it and get them out there competing.”
To one day secure a spot for up and coming female wrestlers like Vallejo’s little sister, who at age 8 is already competing.
“I want girls to experience that because it's so fun. They don't know what they're missing,” Vallejo said.
“If we get a hundred more competitors at the tournament and they're all females, next year we're at a 150, 200. I mean, the sky's the limit,” Schneider said.
Any girl wanting to compete should show up at Yukon High School, 1777 S Yukon Pkwy, Yukon, OK 73099 on Saturday, November 10, between 6:30 and 8 a.m. Competition begins at 9 a.m.