“Rylee is a tough worker. She puts in the time, she works with all the girls. She makes all the girls in wrestling much better.” As Fort Lupton High School girls wrestling head coach …
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“Rylee is a tough worker," Fort Lupton girls wrestling coach Chris Tijerina said. "She puts in the time, she works with all the girls. She makes all the girls in wrestling much better.”
As Tijerina describes junior Rylee Balcazar, it's easy to tell that she is one of the leaders on the team and sets the example for the rest of the girls. Her hard work and dedication is reflected on the mat day in and day out, Tijerina said.
Balcazar placed third in the state tournament during her freshman year. Last year, during her sophomore year, she became the first girls wrestling state champion in Fort Lupton school history. Her title was in the 100-pound weight class, and she became only the second girls state champion in Weld County history.
Despite being the defending state champion in her weight class, Balcazar said she's had a rough start to the season, losing her first match.
“The girl I lost to came from California, and it was the first match of the season. It was an eye-opener. I know people are trying to come at me and I was a bit hot-headed," she said. "So now, I realize I really need to try harder.”
The coaching staff is aware that the eyes of other teams around the state are on Balcazar, which has been a double-edged sword throughout the season.
“The unfortunate thing is because she is such a good wrestler, a majority of the time when we go to duals, girls will either go up in weight or down in weight because they don’t want to wrestle her. It makes it really difficult to get her matches, and most of the time, the only matches we get her are in tournaments,” mentioned Tijerina.
This season, the Bluedevils' girls wrestling program is undefeated in four dual meets, plus a team championship in one tournament and a third-place effort in another. That is extra motivation for Balcazar, as the state tournament is around the corner.
“Yes, I’m really motivated. I really want it again for the school and to motivate other girls on my team because I’m helping them out also. I don’t want to be the only one [state champion] this year,” Balcazar said.
“[Last year] was great. She was my first state champion, so I loved it,” Tijerina said. “We’re working for state champion No. 2, for sure. We think we are going to win back-to-back and, if not, win again her third year. She’s pushing all the girls to be right next to her.”
Balcazar is not only a standout on the wrestling mat, she is part of the softball team that has gone to the state tournament several years running. She is on the varsity girls soccer team and also participates in track and field.
“It keeps me in shape all year. This year, I might step away from soccer to continue my wrestling career in freestyle. But I’m still going to be in soccer a little bit because I was in competitive also,” mentioned Balcazar.
The junior is living proof that hard work and dedication can help student-athletes accomplish their goals in whatever sport they participate. Tijerina is certain that she will accomplish her goals even after high school.
“She’s a great girl, and we want nothing but the best for her. We know she’s going to do great, we know she will do great when she graduates from here and be one of our college wrestlers that are going to succeed and, hopefully, bring a national championship,” the coach said.
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