Kylee ‘TOUGH’oya defies the odds

Feature Photo By: Clara Abreo – Junior Kylee Tafoya poses with her 5th place medal. Tafoya placed 5th in the Colorado Girls State Wrestling tournament.

 By: Izzy Honey, Review Staff

In a male dominated sport like wrestling, finding a female athlete is rare. Junior Kylee Tafoya breaks this stereotype as the only female wrestler on the Rangeview wrestling team.

Tafoya has been wrestling for three years — ever since her freshman season.

According to coach Tim Corby, “She is the first female athlete to have completed more than one season in our sport since 1999. She is dedicated and shows commitment to the sport and her team.”

Tafoya wrestles with another girl at a junior varsity tournament. Her overall record this season was 7-15. (Clara Abreo)

Tafoya notices many differences as a female in the sport of wrestling, especially the lack of female singlets (wrestling uniforms) available, the required hairnets that often slip over the eyes during matches, and the many biased referees.

Tafoya has fallen victim to this bias herself, saying, “I have met a lot of refs that are against female wrestlers and will short count or call us for random things.”

Despite the challenges that may drive other girls away from the sport, Tafoya is passionate about wrestling and about her team.

“I often feel like the little sister that is always hanging out with my brother and all of his friends and getting into trouble,” said Tafoya. “It’s honestly really great because I get to brag that I’m the only girl wrestler, and I also have a whole group of boys that support me and cheer me on.”

In her three years of wrestling, Tafoya feels she has improved the way she trains to lose weight and she’s improved her skills and what she can do with them.

In regards to her dedication, Coach Corby commented, “She drills technique and knows how to earn points from top, bottom, or neutral. She is improving in competition by testing herself against quality opponents. Kylee is a great example of what a coach looks for in their athletes.”

Sophomore Johnnie Fisher has been her training partner this season and according to Tafoya, Fisher is always pushing her, making her laugh, and cheering her on.

Tafoya wrestles during the Colorado Girls State Wrestling tournament at Thornton High School. Her overall record for the girls tournaments she attended this season was 4-6. (Clara Abreo)

“She is a hard worker and she is very dedicated,” said Fisher. “She is very capable of doing anything when she puts her mind to it.”

During last year’s season, a new opportunity opened up to Tafoya: she was given the chance to compete in girls-only tournaments. This year, she has been able to attend three.

“I’m happy there are more opportunities for me to wrestle because before my freshman year, I had never seen a single girl wrestler,” said Tafoya. “I was stuck wrestling guys and I would often sit out because the boy didn’t want to wrestle me.”

With female wrestling becoming more popular in high schools, more girls will have the opportunity to be involved in the sport and have the fair advantage of wrestling other girls.

On Saturday, February 3rd, Tafoya competed in the Colorado Girls State Wrestling tournament, placing 5th overall in the 147 pound weight class.

Corby commented, “I am inspired by Kylee’s efforts to improve as a student-athlete and wrestler.  Her success is what makes coaching worthwhile.”

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