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Wrestling is a family affair for the Gonzalezs

Julissa Gonzalez became the first female wrestler at Shafter High to qualify for the State Championships last year. She repeated that feat this year, as well as becoming the first female wrestler to win a Valley title. Julissa added to her accomplishments last weekend when she traveled to the Reno World Wrestling Championships, placing second in her weight class.

This is impressive enough, but the Gonzalez family boasts a quintet of talented wrestlers, with all five of their children excelling in the sport. Julissa's younger brothers and sister all have their own successes on the mat.

Jayden Gonzalez won the Youth Wrestling State Championship in his weight division at Selland Arena this year in Fresno. He also traveled to Nevada, competing against over 60 wrestlers in his division. He didn't place, but won two matches against some of the best competition in the nation.

At the State tournament, sister Janali placed second, along with Julian, in their respective weight divisions.

The medals continue to accumulate with the success of the siblings, creating a dynasty here, putting Shafter on the wrestling map.

Mother Esmeralda said that she loves that the kids are interested in wrestling and said that it has been a real blessing. "They know that they have to keep their grades up to allow them to continue wrestling, so it helps them work harder in the classroom. It also helps them as people, teaching them responsibility, value of hard work, and accomplishing goals."

Julissa said that she loves wrestling because it helps with her confidence, as well as learning how to be a good team member, and working hard for something that you want.

"It also helps you even when you lose. It makes you learn how to lose and learn from it, continuing to get better," Jayden said,

Jayden will be a freshman next year, so Shafter High will be getting richer, as well as the future Generals in the family who are still in grade school. The Gonzalez family will continue to compete with pride, getting better on and off the mat.


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