Victoria West wins girls District 15-4A wrestling title (w/video)
Jan. 25, 2014 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2014 at 7:25 p.m.
Wrestling when it counted didn't get to the nerves of Karolina Clifford.
Being able to participate in Saturday's District 15-4A tournament was a new experience for the Victoria West freshman. Clifford was glad to participate in a sport unknown to others, she said.
"Wrestling, you don't see too many girls doing it," Clifford said. "I wanted to be different."
Though Clifford didn't win first place in the 138-pound division, being in the finals was enough for West to claim District 15-4A title for girls.
The freshman made an impact the West wrestling team would remember long after the tournament with a second-place finish in her division.
Saturday was a chance not just for experienced wrestlers but inexperienced ones as well. For VISD wrestling coach Kerry Iannazzo, those are moments he enjoys with the players.
"When a freshman does well in a tournament like this in district, it shows how hard they worked all year long," Iannazzo said. "If you don't work, you don't win."
Clifford said she wanted to do her best for the team. She didn't claim first, but being able to compete for the opportunity was an experience itself.
"I think I've improved a lot," said Clifford, who started in November.
Saturday was an opportunity for newcomers to the varsity level to compete.
West junior Jerry Spiegel competed in his first district tournament on varsity. He finished second in the 160-pound division.
"It's a very big change. It's a lot harder," Spiegel said while explaining competing for a district title is a chance to "just get the experience and get ready for regional."
Spiegel finished Saturday with a record of 6-6.
Iannazzo doesn't look at records. He believes dedication is not seen in records.
"You got a kid who is 10-20, but on district day, he could be district champ if he does the right things," Iannazzo said. "You never know. That's why I like to coach. (Wrestling) gives kids in all weight classes an opportunity to succeed whether they're 95 pounds or 285 pounds."
Next Friday, Clifford, Spiegel and others from East and West will head to the Region 4 meet in Austin.
Until then, there will be more practice to obtain perfection.
"You just have to try your hardest," Clifford said. "You just have to push yourself more and more."