Meet Oswego High School junior wrestler Kaitlynn Valencia, known for taking down both opponents and gender norms. The 2022-2023 season is her first year to wrestle, but she has been gaining experience since the 2021-2022 season when she was working as the team’s manager.
“It gave me an outlet for my feelings and I just really liked it. It affects me in a lot of different ways like normal sports do but it helps me stay active and watch my weight to be able to wrestle,” Valencia said.
Recently, Valencia made OHS history on Sat., Jan. 21, when she placed 4th in the Southwest Prairie Conference Girls tournament. This was made even more monumental considering she is the first OHS woman wrestler to ever place in the event.
Valencia’s main goal is to continue her wrestling career throughout the rest of highschool.
“For me personally, I would say this season is going pretty good especially since I’m a first year. I’m not doing horrible but not as well as I want to,” Valencia says. As a first year, it takes a lot of work and practice to get where you want to be.
Throughout this season, Valencia has put up a fight, wanting to do her best for herself and the team.
“Being on the wrestling team is not only about wrestling, more like a little family, a new purpose really. The wrestling team all go through a similar thing by making weight and keeping their weight at the right place to wrestle. Being there for each other is a big, meaningful thing for everyone. Cheering each other on with a win or lose still makes the team feel like family,” explains Valencia.
Being the only girl wrestler, it took some adapting for the guy wrestlers to recognize her skill- but soon a great connection formed.
“A lot of them respect me, look out for me, and cheer me on while I wrestle others,” Valencia says.
Having that brother-sister bond is helpful to Valencia not only because she is able to rely on the other wrestlers on the mat, but also outside of the wrestling room. Being on the team and learning from a different person or coach changes her perspective. The guys show her how hard they work, and as the only girl, she wants to work even harder to beat them in practice.
“They treat me like another team member, which is what I want because I don’t want them walking on eggshells around me just because I’m the girl on the team,” Valencia says.
Since this season has started, Valencia’s record is 4-10. She practices four days out of the week for two hours each day. She pushes herself past her limit and out of her comfort zone. Not only is she okay with only four wins but glad she is able to prove that she can wrestle too.
Since she placed at SPC, she will be wrestling at Geneseo High School at the Sectionals tournament on Feb. 11 and 12. Kaitlynn Valencia has become a staple to the program, showcasing the resolve and success of Panthers who work hard.
My name is Jaylene Tinajero Garcia, and this is my second year being a part of 42fifty. I am a senior in high school. I am on the varsity cheer team. I love taking photos and videos of nature in my free time. I am really excited to start my career as a journalist.