Despite a painful right shoulder injury, Valley High School's Syria Rhodes defeated Gunn of Palo Alto's Cadence Lee 6-4 in overtime to win the 103-pound championship at the California Interscholastic Federation girls state wrestling championships tonight in Lemoore.
Rhodes, a senior, injured her shoulder as she rolled out of a hold by Lee, a sophomore, in the third period.
"She had to take a couple of time outs and actually got penalized a point for stalling because it hurt her so much," said Valley coach Rod Edmiston, who was ill an unable to attend the finals but kept in contact with Rhodes by cell phone. "But she gutted through it, and the match ended 4-4 in regulation. Then she got a takedown to win in overtime."
Edmiston said that the usually quiet Rhodes couldn't contain her joy after winning to become Valley's first state wrestling champion.
"She sounded a lot different than normal," Edmiston said. "You could tell she was proud of what she accomplished."
It was the typical Rhodes before the match, however.
"She was laidback, the way she normally is," Edmiston said. "I told her that there wasn't anything bigger than wrestling for a state championship. I reminded her how much she had prepared and to give it her all. She said, 'I will coach.'"
Earlier today in the semfinals, the fourth-seeded Rhodes defeated top-seeded Vanessa Gomez of Covina's Northview 11-6. On Friday, Rhodes pinned Southern Section wrestlers Brianne Nguyen and Monica Bobodilla.
Rhodes reached the 106-pound finals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II championships last Saturday at Del Oro High School as the event's only girls participant.
"Winning a state title will do wonders for Syria," Edmiston said. "I think now she's got a good shot at getting a wrestling scholarship, maybe even a full ride."