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Photo Credit: Sophia Mercado

Photo Credit: Sophia Mercado

Photo Credit: Sophia Mercado

Rachel Stanley, Reporter

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When one thinks about a wrestler, many images come to mind. One that probably does not is that of a small, slight-framed girl. However, freshman Sophia Mercado perfectly fits that description – both parts. Despite her unassuming appearance, this student is a powerhouse, and the Voice interviewed her to find out a little more about her wrestling.

 

How long have you been wrestling?

I’ve been wrestling for about a year and a half now.

Where do you wrestle?

Palomino Academy. It’s a club that does wrestling year round.

What sparked your interest in the sport?

My brother – he’s a senior now at Bellarine. Over one summer he went to this wrestling camp, and then when he was a freshman he joined the team. My family is really supportive of the sports we do, so we went to all of his tournaments, just seeing him there. And I saw a few girls wrestling at the time, and I thought “well, that would be kind of fun.”

Did you do any related sports before, or does your interest in wrestling stand alone?

I did karate previously. I was into more contact sports, so I thought I’d give it a try. My dad’s done jiu-jitsu, which involves more grappling. So I’ve been surrounded by a lot of different sports and types of martial arts.

Why that sport over any others?

Well, mostly it was because my brother was doing it. And I was done with karate. I’d quit because I’d done it for five years already. I did basketball, and I did volleyball, but those were seasonal sports. Mostly my mom wanted me to find a sport so I could stay in shape. She wanted me to do something that I could do year-round like karate.

Is there a personal satisfaction you get from wrestling?

Wrestling has really built my confidence because before I was a very shy person, and I would just do what everyone else did so that no one would notice me. But now, because wrestling isn’t exactly the most popular sport for girls, it has made me come out of my comfort zone and really come out of my shell. It has boosted my confidence because during a match I have to depend on myself to know what to do next, and when I do something right, I get that self-assurance that I can only get better.

What is the physical conditioning and training like?

During the season, I wrestle five days a week for two hours. And then Saturday and Sunday, I go to my karate dojo with my dad – because he’s my coach – and we’ll go over moves. Or I’ll go work out at a little gym in his office.

Do you wrestle boys?

Yeah, I wrestle co-ed. During the season, I wrestle mostly girls. But when it’s off-season, I wrestle guys. Usually most girls don’t wrestle during the off-season because they don’t want to wrestle guys or they’re not allowed to at some schools.

How does that typically end?

Guys generally have more upper body strength than girls. But girl wrestlers have more of the technique, and they think about things more. So it’s really whatever plays out, pretty much. You don’t really know what’s going to happen.

How many other girls do you know in the sport?

I know a few because I’ve been going to the tournaments, and there’s an all girl’s team there. But at my club, there’s only one other girl who wrestles. But I know a few – a good amount. It’s growing for a girl’s sport.

Do you have a favorite moment from a match or something that you’re particularly proud of?

Probably, my first high school tournament. It was just girls, and I wrestled four matches. And I placed first at that one. So that was really exciting because it was my first high school tournament, and I got first. It really sparked something inside me.

 

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