All-American women’s wrestler

Zach Morgan

(Courtesy of UNF Wrestling)

By: Zach Morgan, Contributing Writer

The National Collegiate Women’s Wrestling Association crowned UNF’s first All-American wrestler after her performance this season. UNF junior Ashley Rodriguez received the silver medal for the 112-pound weight class at the NCWA National Championships. The championships were held in Daytona March 8-10, and UNF finished the event in 10th place out of 18 teams.

Rodriguez, who bounced from Seminole State College to Valencia College, finally settled at UNF. As a child, she grew up playing sports, particularly volleyball and basketball, but during her junior year at Lake Mary High School, she joined the wrestling team and never looked back.

“It had been three years since I wrestled when I arrived at UNF,” Rodriguez said. “So, when I found out we had a wrestling team, I was excited.”

For Rodriguez, wrestling is special because it’s truly a team sport and an individual sport at the same time. She enjoys the thrill she gets during those few minutes on the mat when all of her hard work and dedication pays off. Though, Rodriguez admits, those couple of minutes can be the longest minutes of her life.

While she loves the sport of wrestling, it can be a challenge for Rodriguez. She believes wrestling is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. That’s exactly why she spends more time developing mental toughness than any other aspect of her skill set. But that’s not the only challenge.

“There are so many obstacles that wrestlers have to overcome, sometimes even before they actually wrestle,” Rodriguez said.

One challenge for wrestlers is making sure they are on or under weight for their weight class, Rodriguez said.

Even for an All-American, there can be difficulties, but Rodriguez’ performance this season set her apart. At the end of the day, she collected a silver medal at the national tournament and was named an All-American.

Rodriguez wants to promote the sport of wrestling to women. In high school, there were only two girls on the team, but during her junior year, the team had seven members, something she’s extremely proud of.

“I was really proud to see that kind of growth in such an uncommon sport for women,” Rodriguez said.

Email Zach Morgan at [email protected]