This year’s varsity girls wrestling squad earned an unusual accolade in the 2021-22 season: winning an All-Academic Championship.
The CIF Southern Section award goes to the team with the highest overall grade point average, making the Vikings the premier squad of girls wrestling scholar-athletes across the California Interscholastic Federation — most commonly called the CIF — in Southern California. In the first two quarters of the school year, the team’s cumulative GPA was a whopping 3.9 on a 4.0 scale.
But the team is about more than just academic marks.
“They’re great. They’re really good with each other; they take care of each other,” their coach, Aldo Juliano, said, later adding, “It’s kind of a cool thing to see how they care for each other and make sure they’re there for each other.”
Juliano said the group of 10 teammates, which includes senior Maggie Inens, plus Tiara and Ata Sakamoto, Malaika Kamau, Maia Baker, Naomi Gage, Destoni Lowe, Alicia Lewis, Janelly Lopez, and Fridha Nicolas, were fierce competitors but also made sure to study, including sometimes between matches at tournaments.
“It’s a brutal sport. You’re basically going through hand-to-hand combat,” Juliano said. “And to do that, and then to go home and have your grades [up]? I remember … seeing them bring schoolwork to tournaments. I could never do that.”
In recognition of this achievement, the CIF invited the team and their families to Angel Stadium in Anaheim this April to watch a baseball game and be presented with a banner.
“They walked us out and announced they had the highest GPA in all the girls wrestling, and everybody screamed and yelled as they walked in. It was a real neat little thing,” Juliano said.
The ceremony was the first time Academic Awards were offered since the start of the pandemic in 2020.