A group of young wrestlers meet every week to learn the sport, fine tune their moves and work to dominate the sport. One of the committed local athletes is eight years old and a force to be reckoned with. When we showed up to watch the Northwest Knights practice, the "Wrestler of the Year" caught our eye for more than one reason. Shewas the only wrestler with a ponytail.
Weighing in at just 58 pounds, Reese Larramendy is a future Olympic athlete; just ask her! "I think I'm pretty good," she says with a big grin. Since wrestling is not a popular sport among young girls, Reese wrestles boys. "Actually, I'm kind of used to it now. But it felt kind of weird at the start, but then I got used to it."
Reese showed interest in wrestling about two years ago. Her parents were not surprised, "You know, dance and all that was never an option with her," explains Reese's mother, Tara. However, they did worry about how their little girl might be treated. "But she came out and has proven herself."
Reese works out four to five days a week with the hopes of, one day, dominating the sport. Her coach, Jeremy Mumm, who also coaches the McQueen and Mendive wrestling teams, says the boys respect her for her dedication, determination and drive. "They treat her like another wrestler." Reese is not intimidated by them either. Before every match, she says, "I'm just saying I gotta win. I gotta do my best."
In fact, wrestling with boys just might help her reach her goal. "I'm planning on going to the Olympics." She trains with that very goal in mind. You should see her off-season workouts. We found home video of her running while pulling a boulder behind her, doing pull-ups in the garage and throwing around a medicine ball like many athletes twice her age. "I want to train at the Olympic Training Center and then try my best to win a gold medal."
Reese has the same aspirations as her role model, 21-year-old Adeline Gray who is a two-time world champion. Reese already befriended her and they communicate via Facebook. Although there is an age difference, both ladies share the same goal of inspiring other girls to, at least, wrestle with the idea of joining them on the mat. "I think they would really like it and we need more girls in this sport."
In a surprise move today, the International Olympic Committee decided to remove wrestling from the 2020 Olympics. Tara Larramendy responded by saying her family will not give up on Reese's dream and they'll sign petitions and write whomever necessary to ensure that this longtime sport remains on the world-wide stage.
You can follow Reese's progress on Facebook. Just search Reese Larramendy-Wrestling.