The South Dade High School Girls wrestling team had a very successful 2022.
This was the first year that the Florida High School Athletic Association offered girls wrestling as an official high school sport, as well as the first year for a girl’s state wrestling championship.
The South Dade girls team finished fifth in the state championship at Kissimmee. There were 35 teams at the state meet.
The team won the Miami-Dade County wrestling tournament, the district championship and the regional championship.
High school girls have been wrestling with boys’ teams for years and some girls have done very well competing against boys. South Dade had offered girls wrestling the past few years.
“We have several girls who wrestled at South Dade and have since graduated and are now competing on college wrestling teams.
Even though the sport was not sanctioned they competed in non-sanctioned tournaments or at the national levels,” said Coach Victor Balmeceda.
Balmeceda is one of the most successful wrestling coaches in Florida.
“The reason we have had the early success is because the girls practice alongside the boys. We are using the same recipe for wrestling success with the girls as we do for the boys. The girls go through the same workouts and wrestling with the boys.”
Gamaliel Duran, the South Dade girls’ wrestling coach was very pleased with the team’s success.
“There is a rich history of wrestling at South Dade and the girls really bought into it.”
Duran said that at first there were four girls who wanted to be involved in the wrestling team. One day, they began to practice on their own. Nobody forced them to practice, they just began working and they really enjoyed it. There had been female wrestlers at South Dade before but not many.
“The four girls participated in non-sanctioned wrestling events and
exceeded our expectations,” said Duran. He was a professional Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter for about ten years.
“This year we had eight girls who qualified for the state meet and many were first year wrestlers,” said Duran.
He was very impressed with the South Dade girls but said they faced stronger competition from more established girls wrestling teams based in the Orlando area.
“I think the girls’ team will get even better and will do better at the state level in the next few years,” said Duran.
Ferny Hernandez, 170 lbs., 3rd place
Anisah Paz, 145 lbs., 5th place
Gabriela Sagre, 155 lbs., 6th place.
Natalie Duran, 106 lbs., 7th place.