It started in September 2017 when Rick Gurrola took over the Redondo Union boys wrestling team.
Gurrola explained he wanted to start a girls wrestling team. It began with 22 individuals that shrank down to 12 by the end of the season. He did not have enough to actually fill all the weight classes and he had a lot of newcomers.
They wrestled against Mira Costa where he once coached. The Sea Hawks had put in the work, but they were not ready. Now many of those freshmen have returned and Redondo won its season opening dual match by a lopsided score against Long Beach Poly.
Led by Montana Rigby, who is a senior, this year’s first full-fledged team is seeing success.
“I originally was in cheerleading since freshman year,” Rigby said. “However, I didn’t feel like that was what I really wanted to do. As a kid, I did gymnastics and that was a sport that was difficult. After doing cheer for a year or two I came to the conclusion that I needed a sport or physical activity in which can challenge me and that pushes me to be the best of my potential.”
And with that decision and some training, Rigby became Gurrola’s first student in year one and first state contender after just one season.
“She works really, really hard,” said Gurrola of Rigby, who wrestles at 128. “She is something special. She is a very, very talented young lady and this is only her second and for sure I’m taking her to state this year.”
Rigby said she began really liking contact sports. So she took kickboxing classes and attended a wrestling clinic, which is she met Gurrola.
“After the first practice I did, he told me I had talent and he wanted me to keep coming to his clinics. That’s where I decided to give it a shot and honestly I fell in love with the sport.”
“That same year he became the head coach of Redondo Union wrestling and that’s when I knew wrestling was the new sport for me.”
That was last year as a junior and now she is one of the best in the state in her weight class.
At the moment, Redondo Union has a team that has only the 195 lbs. weight class open on their team.
Recently the Redondo Union girls wrestling team finished third at the Bonita Lady Gun Wrestling Tournament.
“The most impressive thing was team Redondo beat Corona, Warren, Northview and some really good programs,” Gurrola said.
Teyah Guitierrez won her weight class at 121 lbs. winning all her five matches by pin.
“My experience at Bonita was very emotional and amazing,” Guitierrez said. “I had some great matches. My opponents were all great wrestlers. My last match for the finals would have to be my toughest one.”
In the finals, she came from behind against a girl from Birmingham after trailing 10-3.
“She almost had me pinned in the first period but I fought my way through. The second period my coach told me to catch the head and finish it. I successfully pinned the girl and cried with joy. I was so happy that I had won.”
She did more than that. She won the MVP for the lower weight classes.
“It was an honor,” said Guitierrez of winning the award.
Rigby finished third at 126.
Others who did well were Olivia “Fro” Bulganni, fourth, 170; Kylie Sharp, fifth, at 143; Laura Labat, seventh, 116.
The wrestlers talked about why wrestling is so great to have at Redondo Union.
“A family everyone is so welcoming,” said Guitierrez. “The best part is having the greatest coach to always be there to motivate and push us to our success.”
“Coming back to wrestling this year was the best choice by far for me because it’s been really fun, a great adventure and I’m learning new things everyday about wrestling,” Rigby said.
“Being on the very first all girls’ wrestling team at Redondo Union High School has been a dream come true because I can bond with other girls about wrestling,” Bulganni said. “The wrestling team and especially coach Rick’s biggest goal is to beat Mira Costa because they are out biggest rivalry. We now have a full team of girls and we are ready to defeat them.”
They are ready to take on their rival Mira Costa.
“This year we are ready and getting prepared to beat Mira Costa,” Rigby said. “We feel stronger than ever. We also feel very united, like a big family. This year we are ready to take on Mira Costa and finally beat them.”
“I wrestled (Mira Costa last year) but had no chance. I only had part of a team,” Gurrola said. “This year it will be a match.”
The two teams square off in what will be the first official all girls wrestling dual between Mira Costa and Redondo Union Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 3 p.m.