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Pueblo Wrestler Continues Family Legacy

In the wrestling world, there are many well-known families with multiple members participating in the sport. At Pueblo High School, Elizabeth Valenzuela-Smith is carrying on her family's wrestling legacy.Elizabeth Valenzuela-Smith poses with her grandfather and father after winning state

Elizabeth's father, Josiah Smith, won state in 1998 and her grandfather, Orlando Smith, won state in 1974 and 1975. Her two older brothers, Mozes (class of 2021) and Jozeph (class of 2026) have placed at state. Not to be outdone, Elizabeth is the first female state wrestling champion for both Pueblo High School and Tucson Unified. And she's just getting started, as she just wrapped up her freshman year. 

Elizabeth began wrestling at six years old, inspired by her older brother Mozes. She says it came naturally to follow in the footsteps of her father and grandfather. "They have both been greatly supportive to me my entire wrestling career and with my father coaching me this past season it obviously had its successes as well as its challenges. However there’s no one I would have rather coached me to win state," she says. 

With three more years of high school ahead of her, Elizabeth plans to continue to develop her skills as an athlete and as a student. Her long-term goal is to wrestle at the collegiate and professional levels. Academically, she's part of the Pueblo High School College Preparatory Academy with a 4.0 GPA, ranked #4 of 500 in her class, and plans to study nutrition and exercise physiology in college.

Though women's wrestling isn't as prevalent as men's wrestling, it's a growing sport and Elizabeth believes other girls should give it a try. "It won't be easy but the results are worth it," she explains. "Remember to have fun and try to find the value of your experiences." 

Elizabeth Valenzuela-Smith smiles with her arm held up by an AIA official after winning a tournamentWith her first season of high school wrestling behind her, Elizabeth says she's learned a lot. "Over the years I used to take losses super hard but since about a year ago I kind of figured out that if I'm losing it means to me that there's still stuff I can get better at in some way...I appreciate how wrestling is a sport where what you put in is what you get out of the sport. So if you are working really hard, eating the right foods, doing extra after practice, focusing on technique, you're gonna be one of the best anywhere you compete."
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