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Wrestler Angelinah “Sky” De Leon Sets Historic School Record

“In the State of California, there have always been high school women in wrestling since the ’90s,” said Nick Garcia, Head Wrestling Coach at Santa Clara High School and school alum. “Santa Clara High School always had women who placed in competitions. But women’s high school wrestling was not a sanctioned sport in California until 2011.”

Garcia’s team, the Santa Clara Bruins Wrestling Team, consists of 28 boys and 13 girls. One team member is Angelinah “Sky” De Leon, 16, who is the first sanctioned female athlete in the school’s history to be a CCS (Central Coast Section) champion and to place at the State competition.

De Leon won first place at the CCS Masters held at Watsonville High School on Feb. 17. This high school junior pinned her first opponent in 51 seconds. It was considered a swift pin since the match was six minutes.


At the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) Women’s State Championships held in Bakersfield from Feb. 22-24, De Leon placed second. Garcia recalled De Leon was seated as number 6 so she was initially expected to take 6th place.

“But during the tournament, she pinned her first four female opponents,” Garcia said. “Her fourth opponent, before the final round, was number 2. Angelinah solidified herself in the top 2 in the State of California when she pinned the opponent.”

De Leon is pleased her hard work – a daily regimen of two hours of team practice plus an additional two hours of working out – has paid off.

“I learned how to do pins mostly from doing jiu-jitsu,” said De Leon, who aspires to major in Computer Science in college. “When you wrestle, the goal is to finish with a pin, when you get both your opponent’s shoulder blades on the ground.”

According to De Leon, all her male teammates are friendly to her.

“We sweat together,” De Leon said. “We wrestle with each other. Over time, we earn each other’s respect. I have two partners I work with who are boys – Gyan Nawbatt and Kai Johnson. They give me good feedback on my moves.

“There are five senior guys on the team,” De Leon continued. “We hang out outside of school and go to the gym together. I’m especially grateful to my sister, Layanah, who is my wrestling partner at home and one of my biggest supporters.”

De Leon works hard to get everything down to a T when she practices her wrestling.

“I’ll do the same moves, such as sweep singles or low singles, 60 times or more during a practice,” she said. “A sweep single is where you’re standing in a stance facing your opponent and that’s when you move your opponent’s head or arm a little bit just to create an opportunity for sweeping around their leg. A low single is when you’re in a stance, and you drop really fast and go for the opponent’s ankle and push forward so they will fall on their butt.”

One of De Leon’s competition strategies is to remain calm.

“I stay calm because you could be losing the whole match so far,” she said. “But all you need to do is to flip your opponent over, get a pin and you win.”

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