Wrestling: Emma hopes to go out in style

Kira Emma said wrestling is her favorite sport over cross country and track.

Even when Kira Emma had doubts, her mom, Whitny, always encouraged her to stay strong. A sophomore at San Benito High, Emma is one of several solid girl wrestlers on the San Benito High wrestling team. Emma entered the week ranked 11th in the Central Coast Section in the 106-pound weight class.
A year ago, Emma went 2-2 in reaching the quarterfinals of the CCS Championships.
Even though Emma is just a sophomore, this will be her final year attending San Benito High. Emma’s dad, Brian, is an aerospace engineer who has been living in Tucson, Ariz., since taking a job there in September.
The rest of Emma’s family—her mom and two siblings—stayed in Hollister for school reasons. Knowing this is her final season, Emma is hoping to make it her best yet.
“I would like to place at CCS and hopefully qualify for state,” she said. “It would be nice to do that in my final year of wrestling here.”
In addition to wrestling, Emma also runs cross country and track. Emma had a solid season on the cross-country team, helping the team win the Monterey Bay League Championships. Emma was the team’s fifth top finisher, placing seventh overall. But when it comes to her favorite sports, wrestling rules her heart.
“It’s just you and your opponent on the mat, and there’s something special about that,” she said. “The physical contact, the conditioning, everything about the sport is great.”
Emma said she’s been working on shooting more effectively to get takedowns and just being more aggressive throughout a match. Emma first started wrestling as an eighth grader at Spring Grove. She didn’t exactly get off to an auspicious start, losing every single match. Emma, who wasn’t planning on continuing the sport in high school, credited Spring Grove coach Andy Parra for convincing her to stay with the sport once she entered high school.
“Coach Parra insisted I do wrestling my freshman year,” she said. “I won my first match by pin and placed third, which was an amazing turnaround from middle school. That was when I started to fall in love with the sport.”
The Balers have six girl wrestlers, five of whom are ranked in the top 15 of their respective weight classes. Balers junior varsity coach Isaias Rivera coaches the girls, and he said Emma has the best chance out of the solid bunch to advance to the State Meet.
“If Kira stays focused and wrestles the way she’s capable of, she has a good chance of getting top three at CCS and make it to state,” Rivera said. “This year she has a little more confidence, and has improved quite a bit.”
Rivera added that Emma is finishing up her crossfaces well and dominating when she gets in the top position. Since Emma is relatively new to the sport, she has trouble against the top-ranked girls who have more experience. However, Emma is working overtime to gain additional mat experience.
“She’s the kind of kid who will stick around after practice, ask questions and do a couple of more drills,” Rivera said. “She’s always looking for the next match, and she’s not the type to sit around and wait for the coach to tell her something. She’ll be proactive and is always trying to figure out how to best improve her game.”
Emma has lived in Hollister for 5 ½ years, the longest time she’s stayed in one place by far. The family has moved around a lot due to Brian’s job; however, Emma has been able to savor the time she’s had in Hollister.
“I would’ve much preferred to graduate here with all of my friends,” she said. “But at least I’ll be able to finish out the year and hopefully accomplish my goals.”
Emma credits her mom for being her greatest supporter when it came to wrestling. There were people who didn’t want Emma to wrestle; however, Emma continued because Whitny stayed by her side.
“I can’t thank my mom enough,” Emma said.
With the CCS Championships a week away, Emma hopes she can finish her San Benito wrestling career in style—with an appearance in the State Meet.
“I’m just trying to enjoy all the time here while it lasts,” she said. “Making it to state would be unbelievable.”

Leave your comments