SPORTS | March 20, 2018
Best of CPS features exceptional student-athletes with interesting stories to tell. These are students who excel in their sport and in their communities.
Thomas Kelly High School junior, Mayra Morales is being featured for becoming a 2018 Wrestling State Champion.
Mayra has accumulated a number of accolades since joining Kelly HS’s wrestling team her freshman year, which have all been listed below.
“I don’t just wrestle,” Mayra said. “I’ve always loved trying new sports. I also have a passion for soccer and I played basketball growing up as well.”
We sat down with Mayra to gain insight on her best season yet as a wrestler at Kelly and to hear what advice she has to share.
The responses have been edited for clarity and length.
Name: Mayra Morales
List of Accomplishments:
• 2018 State Champion
• 2018 Team Conference Champions
• 2018 Second Place Hope Tournament
• 2017 Second Place Hope Tournament
• 2016 3rd Place in All-Girls Tournament (first-ever tournament)
• 2016 Team Conference Title
Q: Tell us about when and why you began wrestling? How old were you?
A: I began wrestling because I’ve always been someone who likes to try new things, especially when it comes to sports. When I heard about the wrestling team, I did not hesitate to ask more about it and I immediately tried it. At that time, I was a 15- year-old freshman.
Q: What were your expectations going into this season?
A: Going into this season, I expected to have more matches and learn new moves. Also, I expected to perfect moves that I already new. I expected to do better on bottom and on top.
Q: What do you love most about wrestling? Elaborate.
A: What I love most about wrestling is that it helps you become more open as a person. As a wrestler at Kelly HS, I’m on a team of like thirty people and we spend so much time together that we slowly start to open up to one another.
We have learned to grow as a team and it’s like having a second family. We still have each others backs even after the season ended. I also love that I get to meet new people every year.
Q: Was there a certain wrestling technique you struggled with this season? Have you gotten better at it? If so, how?
A: Yes, there’s a wrestling technique I’ve struggled with all three years of competing. It’s the hip toss. I have gotten better at it.
In fact, performing a hip toss is how I won my two state matches. I was able to master the technique with the help of my teammates. They helped me perfect it and they taught me what to do and what not to do.
Q: Was there ever a time this season when you felt like giving up? If you so, tell us about it. Who/what helped you persevere?
A: No, there was never a time in all my three years of wrestling where I felt like giving up. I’ve always been committed to the sports teams I’ve joined and I personally hate quitting or giving up. There was a time, however, where I got injured and my parents did not want me to go back to wrestling, but I stayed committed to what I love.
Q: Some may say it takes courage to be a female competing in a male dominated sport. What are your thoughts?
A: I think it does have its ups and downs, and even though it does get hard sometimes, you have to learn to keep your head up.
There were times where I noticed male opponents would get disappointed if they lost or began losing to me. I just believe that you have to try your best to make them see that you can do the same or even better than a boy.
Q: Who’s your biggest role model? Why?
A: My biggest role model has always been my Grandma Alicia. She was a fighter, she never gave up, even when things got rough. Unfortunately, she passed away three years ago after fighting cancer for seven years. She always had a smile on her face and encouraged others to do their best.
Q: Can you think of a time where another girl has openly expressed the impact you’ve had on her? If so, how did that make you feel?
A: Girls in general have told me that they look up to me for different reasons. One example is that someone told me they admire my determination when it came to losing weight to get in better shape. Also, girls have come up to me in the weight room and asked me to help them train.
Girls have also asked my advice on what exercises to do to improve their bodies in different areas, since they know I work out a lot. It makes me feel good knowing that there are people out there who know notice me and admire who I am and what I do.
Q: What was it like to win the IWCOA title? How did that feel? Did you set any records by doing so?
A: It was fun winning the IWCOA title. I wasn’t expecting to win, but I was very happy because my teammates and coaches knew I had a chance. It felt weird having so much attention the day after in school; It was totally out of my comfort zone.
Overall, it was awesome and a great experience. I am the third girl to ever place in state at Thomas Kelly High School.
Q: After this accomplishment, have you set even larger goals for next year. If so, what are they? Are you thinking about wrestling in college?
A: Some of my goals for next year will be to place in city because I did not get the chance to place this year. Also, I’ve set a goal to place in girls nationals. I will be a senior next year.
I would like to wrestle in college. I’ve been looking at some colleges who offer a girls wrestling team.