Valdiviezo works to build more inclusive wrestling community


Avalon Kate Nash, Staff Writer

   The bright pale lights of the gym reflect on the soft mat below. Two competitors stand poised, facing one another, waiting for the whistle and signal of the referee. Each has only one thing on their minds: determination to bring the other down. This is the thrill of wrestling, a sport going back to the beginning of humankind.

   Junior Alejandra Valdiviezo is one of the most competitive wrestlers to come out of the world-renowned Poway wrestling program. With a current national ranking of seventh, and state ranking of fourth as the season comes to a close, she is in reach of some of her biggest goals.

   Though she grew up around wrestling, Valdiviezo did not truly discover it for her own until seventh grade. Her brothers had wrestled since they were practically toddlers. 

   Valdiviezo’s sport had been cheerleading, which she participated in for five years. Encouraged by her father, she decided to give wrestling a go, viewing it as a valuable self defense tool. After a season in youth wrestling, she knew that there was no going back to cheer. Wrestling was the sport for her. 

   COVID prevented Valdiviezo from joining the Twin Peaks Middle School Wrestling Team, but she was quick to join in high school. 

   At first it was a little awkward. The Poway Wrestling Team was all male, and she was one of two girls on the team. But as she got to know the program, she found a community that encouraged and motivated her to go after what she wanted. 

   “Wrestling is definitely a male-dominated sport, but I think I am respected among my teammates for what I do, and they’re really supportive,” Valdiviezo said. 

   On the team Valdiviezo has become an inspiration.  

   “Alejandra is a really hard worker. She’s really nice and funny. In girls’ wrestling, which is really growing at the moment, she’s someone to look up to, a pioneer,” teammate Paul Kelly said. 

   Practices are composed of a little bit of everything — wrestling practice, weightlifting, and cardio. Fifth period is a special wrestling PE class, where most of their practice time occurs, but they also work out in the mornings with rotating activities. 

   “You wouldn’t expect us to jam out to artists like Ariana Grande and stuff like that. There are people that will be definitely upset over me exposing them, but I’m glad the team has ways of having fun before and after practice,” Valdiviezo said. 

   Because of her achievements, including Junior National Team, All American, Fargo competitor, she has gotten the opportunity to create change in the sport she is passionate about through her board membership of California USA Wrestling, representing female wrestlers.

   One of her biggest goals is to expand the types of wrestling available to female wrestlers. 

   “I love the sport, but on the women’s side of it there is definitely more to be done, and we’re still trying to fight for a couple things we don’t have like Greco style wrestling,” Valdiviezo said. 

   Her coach John Meyers is confident in Valdiviezo’s ability to succeed. 

   “She is a leader, not only for our girls’ wrestling program but for our school and community as well,” Meyers said. 

   Valdiviezo is unsure of what her future holds, but she wants wrestling to be a part of it. 

   “As of now, I’ve been looking at colleges and universities, but I’m not set on one yet. Women’s wrestling is still a growing sport, and I’m waiting to see what opportunities are out there,” Valdiviezo said.