By JUAN ESTEVE
Special to the NEWS
When one door closes, another one opens up. This is the story for the acclaimed San Benito wrestler Yamilex Perez, who last weekend reached the third round in her division at the Class 6A UIL Wrestling State Championship meet. She was the only wrestler from both boys’ and girls’ teams to advance to State as well as the only wrestler representing the east Valley.
Her entrance into the sport was an accident, she recalled.
During her sophomore year, while training for cross country, her first sport of choice, she became injured and had to rehabilitate to get back into action. Afterward, she decided to hit the gym and work on her endurance and strengthening. It was then that she met coach Crispin Lopez, a long-time wrestling coach at San Benito High, and it was he who recommended she try out the sport of wrestling.
At first, she hesitated and declined coach Lopez’s invitation. Still, she gave it a second thought and eventually joined the Girls Wrestling team and began learning the trade. She then started to develop a passion for the sport without forgetting about cross country. She still practices with her cross country team in the mornings to help strengthen her muscles and build stamina for her matches.
Yamilex has become a true champion in the discipline: this year alone, she was crowned District champion in her weight class of 165 pounds. This is the second consecutive year she completes this feat.
Moreover, this allowed her to compete at the UIL State Championships at Cypress Fairbanks, where she said the competition became much tougher than last year as she fought in three matches. Her record at State was 1-2; she was unable to make it past the Round of 16 in the State Tournament.
Additionally, when asked about her views on the sport, she paused and said, “I believe the sport of wrestling has become much harder in Texas. I saw the number of girls double in the State Tournament from 2019. Still, there were more than 4,000 girls when the school year started, and making it to State feels pretty good. I feel accomplished.”
Moreover, Perez shared a bit of her training regime, saying she tries to mix it up with running the hills at the high school, lifting weights, and staying active with the actual wrestling drills.
Finally, when asked about her future plans, Perez mentioned that she is pondering whether she would like to continue wrestling at the collegiate level or join the U.S. Army.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the Feb. 28 – March. 5, 2020 issue of the NEWS.