Senior Makes SP Eagles Wrestling History

From team manager to becoming our District’s first female wrestler to compete at State, that is the path that Luz Rodriguez has been on in the last two years.

Luz will represent the Sauk Prairie Eagles at the WIAA Division I Wrestling Tournament in Madison today. She will be wrestling in the girls state bracket this afternoon. She earned the right to compete at State by winning her sectional last week in West Salem.

Making it to State is an incredible feat for any wrestler,

but considering this is only her first season on the mat, makes it more remarkable. Representing Sauk Prairie as the first female wrestler to compete for the Eagles at State is truly a celebration for this student-athlete!

As a junior, Luz served as the wrestling manager for the high school program of which her younger brother Kevin was a member. According to Luz, her brother Kevin and her friend Kaya Howard, also a wrestler, were the main reasons she decided to give the sport a try. “My brother started wrestling in his 8th-grade year. I did find some interest in the sport, but not enough to join. It wasn't until my senior year that he pushed me more to join him on the team,” Luz said. “And as for my teammate Kaya, I had inspired her to join the swim team with me and I guess it was only fair that I joined her on the wrestling team. If it wasn't for those two, I think I would have been afraid to wrestle.”

Luz has found a competitive yet family-like place in the wrestling program that she says stems from the program’s head coach. “My favorite thing about being on the team is definitely the feeling of family. My coach, Matt Gaffney, truly believes that our team isn't just a team, or an individual sport, but a family.”

The support she has from her teammates and coaches has helped Luz succeed in a physically and mentally tough sport. “I think one of the harder things for me was having to stay mentally tough,” she said. “As a wrestler, it became harder to not get down on myself. You really feel the support of the team and them trying to pick you up and it helps.”

Luz says she feels more nervous than excited to compete at State, but Coach Gaffney is excited that she has this opportunity after the work she put in this season. “Luz has been an extremely hard worker. It being her first year, she had a lot to learn and had to learn it fast,” he said. Gaffney feels that Luz is a bit of a natural and that she benefited from watching her brother wrestle. Even with all that, the road to state is not easy. “Luz has battled through a few injuries this season too, so it's awesome she got healthy at the right time and qualified for the state tournament,” Gaffney added. “I am looking forward to coaching her down at the Kohl Center.”

Wrestling is just one part of Luz’s high school journey. She has been active in Sauk Prairie FFA and is currently Vice President of Leadership. She was also a member of the swim team and plans to play softball again this spring. The senior plans to continue her education after HS graduation and would like to go into the medical field or work with animals in a position like veterinary technician.

With less than a year to prepare for this opportunity, Luz is ready to seize the moment. “I will say that I am definitely ready to represent my team and kick some butt,” she said.

Luz enjoyed a State send-off today with parade through the HS and a fire truck escort out of town. Congratulations Luz! Eagles fans are rooting for you!