wrestling

Nelson first ever female 5A qualifying wrestler

Junior from East doesn’t place but still has big Olympic dreams

Dan Williams
Denver East’s Maya Nelson is consoled by her coach after her tough quarterfinal loss Friday night at the Pepsi Center.
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- Girl power invaded the Colorado high school state wrestling tournament over the weekend at the Pepsi Center.

History was made when Denver East junior Maya Nelson became the first female to qualify for the 5A state wrestling tournament.

But this was no accident and certainly not a publicity stunt because Nelson has some serious skills.

“I’ve said this many times before but she is legit,” East coach Randy Gallegos said. “She is a wrestler not a girl wrestler.”

Nelson (29-12) won her first match by a 13-9 decision over Regis’ Carl Camposanto.

However, after leading for most of her next match Nelson was beat in the quarterfinals by Pine Creek’s Juan Rodriguez who won a 6-4 decision by beating Nelson in the closing seconds of the match.

Nelson, who was on a mission to place, was extremely upset after the last second loss, but vowed to come back stronger next season in her senior year.

Nelson has been wrestling since she was 4 years old and has been called a “workout warrior.”

She is also trained at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and became a junior freestyle champion. Nelson said her goal is making it to the Olympics.