West High junior Iman Kazem has set some new goals now that she is the first Wolf Pack wrestler to earn a medal in state competition.
Kazem, wrestling in the 137-pound weight class, finished in sixth place at the California Interscholastic Federation Girls Championships on Friday and Saturday at the Visalia Convention Center in Visalia.
She went 4-3 for the weekend, starting with a loss on a 9-1 decision to defending champion Jasmine Mendoza, a senior at Overfelt High of San Jose. Mendoza went on to win the gold medal again.
Kazem then won four matches in a row, starting with a 14-0 major decision and a pin in 1 minute, 17 seconds. Another pin, against senior Anna Naylor from Lynbrook High of San Jose in 4:30, secured her place in the medal rounds.
“When I knew I made the medal rounds, I was super excited,” Kazem said. “I was smiling and replaying my match, what I did right, what I did wrong. I was just really excited to know that my coaches’ support and my parents support got me there, and all my hard work paid off.”
Her coach, Sal Alvarado, added that the pin against Naylor, the 2013 runner-up in the 146-pound class, was an important win.
“There were college scouts all around the mat looking at Anna Naylor, and Iman pinned her,” Alvarado said. “That’s the caliber of wrestler she was wrestling all weekend.”
Kazem won again with a pin in 2:14 and then lost a 6-4 decision to Jasmine Ivey of Lathrop, who went on to place third. She lost the fifth/sixth-place match to Inesha West-Taylor of Bear Creek on a 7-4 decision.
Kazem now has a goal of qualifying for the USA Wrestling national team, starting with the California USA Wrestling Junior/Senior Girls Folkstyle Championships on March 16 at Selland Arena in Fresno. Competitors there can qualify to compete at the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle National Championships, March 28 to 30 in Oklahoma City.
“I feel like I can accomplish much more now,” she said. “It helps to know that I’m capable of placing at state.”
Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.