Wrestling is a winter sport but these star student-athletes on the mat at Shadow Hills High School don’t believe in an off-season.
Three Lady Knight wrestlers have qualified for The 2023 Girls Fargo National Tournament; Kaylin Montano, Yocelyn Sandoval, and Isabel Navarro.
“It’s a really huge tournament like only top four get to go so it was really awesome just qualifying,” said Junior standout Montano.
And even in the off-season they’re making sure to stay sharp on the mat.
“I haven’t stopped wrestling like that’s what I’ve been doing constantly like going to practice after school even though season’s over and I’ve had like wrestling tournaments every weekend,” says first-year wrestler Yocelyn Sandoval.
The Lady Knights Wrestling team is already a well decorated team under Head Coach Jody Davis, undefeated in the Valley this season. But their focus day in and day out is hard work and growth across the roster.
Sandoval says wrestling has taught here a lot of things, especially discipline.
“There’s a lot of discipline with wrestling — and there’s a lot of like mentality. That’s like one of the toughest things I struggle with. But I overcome it like day by day, match by match. And it feels nice like to get on the mat and be able to feel calm and just have fun instead of like being nervous how I always used to feel during season.”
Sandoval has already tasted success in her first ever season sporting that Shadow Hills singlet.
“I’m just really grateful obviously, it just means that everything like in this program here is working. I’m able to achieve things everyone would want to you know… I made it to CIF today too which is pretty good for a first year wrestler you know.”
And now she has the chance to represent Team California on the national stage.
“There’s gonna be a lot of new things I’m gonna be learning over there and it’s definitely intimidating. But I want to go you know, I want to go learn new things.”
Meantime for Kaylin Montano, she’s getting used to big stages of all kinds at 143, as well as getting used to collecting the hardware that it brings.
Montano enters her senior season next year and has already made history at Shadow Hills, becoming the first Lady Knight in program history to become a state wrestling finalist.
“Wrestling has just changed my life not only like physically, but mentally and emotionally. I’ve definitely matured. I went from being captain to like just having to like show girls how to do this and not do that and just like lead certain mannerisms away throughout the team.”
After an historic postseason this year at the CIF-SS Masters, she’s ready to keep it rolling this summer.
“I would definitely say it is hard but you kind of gotta take it day by day you know what I mean? You can’t let that pressure get to you just gotta keep going.”
And she says she’s just out here chasing a dream and this trip to North Dakota will help.
“It’s a big step like you learn a lot from Fargo. It’s basically like a whole month camp — a two week camp and then another week up in tournaments, which is just crazy. But you’re with the best of the best and you learn from the best of the best. I mean, we have Olympian coaches coming out and teaching us we have amazing, all American coaches that are teaching us as a girls program, which is really cool because they’re doing it all for free.”
Now, Coach Davis has set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses and getting these girls to the big stage where they belong.
You can find that here.