Athlete of the Week: Jayden Huesca Rodriguez wins State championship

Sophomore Jayden Rodriguez had her name established in history books forever on February 26. When the referee raised her hand, declaring that she won the match, the shocking realization that she was WEGO’s first girls’ wrestling State champion in her division sunk in.

Rodriguez described the feeling when she won as a “state of shock” and that it also “feels like a dream”.

Rodriguez(far left) with all the other state champions wrestler in different weight division.

Rodriguez’s victory is all the more impressive considering this is her first year wrestling. At first, Rodriguez explained that she was hesitant about joining the team, which got its start in October 2021.

Rodriguez said teammate “Isabella Lopez insisted that I should try it.”

Rodriguez’s most memorable moment wrestling at WEGO is winning the State championship, but another memory she will not soon forget is her first-ever wrestling match, held at Oak Park River Forest High School on December 3, 2021. Rodriguez was at a huge disadvantage, as her opponent weighed approximately 30 pounds more than she did; although Rodriguez lost the match, she realized the experience was the start of something more significant.

Rodriguez had a strong support system throughout the season. Rodriguez said. “My teammates and coaches pushed me to do better. My parents also told me to do what makes you happy.”

Rodriguez with Coach Jamie Phillips after winning the state championship (Photo by Dave Pater)

Rodriguez’s inspiration is University of Illinois’ wrestler Danny Pucino.

Pucino said, “I’m honored she looks up to me! It’s cool getting to see her set history in one of the toughest wrestling states in the country in their first ever girls’ state tourney.”

“People are gonna be looking up to you, just how you look up to me!” said Pucino to Rodriguez.

Lopez, who pushed Rodriguez to join the team, also had high praise for Rodriguez as a teammate. Lopez said, “Having her as my wrestling partner was tough. We had are ups and downs, but ultimately, we would always push each other to do better and keep each other motivated and accountable. She also made the sport incredibly fun.”

Girls’ wrestling head coach, Mason Day, said, “Coaching Jayden this season was an exciting journey. I’ve rarely seen wrestlers learn so much in a single season. She, along with the rest of the girls’ wrestling team, have set the precedent for all other girl wrestlers that follow.”

Rodriguez’s future plans are to bring more girls into WEGO’s wrestling program and be able to motivate them to be successful.