Sunnyside added a first to its storied wrestling program Saturday.
Audrey Jimenez won by fall in 3:53 over Valley Vista’s Brianna Reyes to claim the 113-pound girls wrestling state title at Gilbert Mesquite High School, becoming the first female from Sunnyside to achieve that feat.
Jimenez, a freshman who attended Gallego Intermediate, is also the first female wrestler from Tucson to win a state title.
“It’s a great accomplishment for me and others,” Jimenez said. “Hopefully this will be the start of growing girls wrestling at Sunnyside. I’m hoping that more girls follow in my footsteps.”
Adacelli Noriega of Bisbee won a state title last season but was unable to defend her championship because Bisbee canceled winter sports due to COVID-19 concerns.
Canyon del Oro’s Mylei Seigla has placed second two years in a row. Ayesha General of Buena also placed second on Saturday as did Mountain View’s Ysela Gradillas-Flores.
Although she is only a freshman at Sunnyside competing in her first state championship match, Jimenez has plenty of experience in high-profile events.
Jimenez won a gold medal for her weight class in the U15 Pan American women’s freestyle championships in Panama. To get that far, she competed in USA Wrestling national qualifying events.
She also traveled to Nebraska in January to wrestle in a FloWrestling mega-card.
“I’ve had a lot of experience at other tournaments, so I just went out there and wrestled like it was any other match, but it was fun. I had a lot of fun,” Jimenez said.
“(The prior competition) helped me a lot just because it’s natural to be nervous before any match. I’m getting used to being nervous just because I’ve wrestled at a lot more tournaments. Wrestling in all these other matches make me more comfortable with the environment around.”
And just like that Audrey Jiminez the first state champion in Sunnyside History 🎉🎉🎉 pic.twitter.com/0K3GrUHSMl
— Sunnyside Wrestling (@SSBDwrestling) March 7, 2021
It also helps to practice with some of the best to come out of Sunnyside’s program, such as Roman Bravo-Young and Jesse Ybarra at Jet Sports Training on the city’s southside, where all of them were raised. Jimenez (9-0) intends to match Bravo-Young’s accomplishment of being a four-time state champion while never losing a match with Sunnyside.
Jimenez is also part of the Sunnyside Wrestling Club which feeds the Blue Devil program, a dynasty that has tallied 33 state titles, including the last three under coach Anthony Leon.
“Winning the state title is important because it’s more local, and it’s representing the school and all the guys and coaches that have come out of that school,” Jimenez said. “To be part of Sunnyside wrestling means a lot to me because it’s being part of a big family.
“I have a lot of support because they do support all of us even though I am a girl wrestler. It just feels good because we’re all family.”
Jimenez next plans to compete in the USAW Women’s Nationals in Irving, Texas, from May 7-9, and potentially the USAW Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D., in July.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.