Women create their own legacy for CSU club wrestling

Tyler Johnson

Two women are changing the culture of Colorado State club wrestling – a space traditionally dominated by men.

Juniors KaMele Sanchez and Kendal Davis are leading the way in one of the most successful seasons in CSU history.

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Sanchez and Davis’ wrestling journeys have led them on juxtaposing paths to become officers for the team as well as two of the most successful wrestlers to ever compete in the program.

 

Junior Jendal Davis wrestles an opponent in Las Vegas, Nevada during the 2017-18 season. (Photo courtesy of Kendal Davis)

Sanchez came from a small farming community on the Hawaiian Islands and started wrestling in high school in order to become a more rounded person going into college. Her passion for wrestling only intensified when she discovered that her father also wrestled.

Meanwhile, Davis’ journey began in California. Her competitive nature drove her to start wrestling in the eighth grade and compete against her brothers, who already wrestled.

“I’ve always been super competitive with them,” Davis said. “I didn’t want them to be able to beat me up.”

In Hawaii, Sanchez competed in the women’s division while Davis wrestled both males and females in California. There are currently six states that have sanctioned women’s wrestling in high school. Nearly two decades after becoming the first state with women’s wrestling in 1999, Hawaii’s women’s division is now as large as the men’s

“One year there were more girls wrestling in Hawaii than men,” Sanchez said.

California joined the group in 2011 but does not require women to wrestle other women like Hawaii. Since Davis was the only female on her team for some time, she chose to wrestle in the men’s division.

Both came to CSU to pursue their education and joined the club team to continue the sport they love. Since joining the team, both have excelled despite struggling to see time on the mat. Sanchez became an All-American two seasons ago and Davis fell just short last season.

The pair put together an impressive regular season with a combined record of 21-1 heading into Division II Nationals this weekend. Head coach Kendall DeJonge praises both as important members of the team and role models for their teammates.

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Sanchez smiles
Junior KaMele Sanchez smiles during a wrestling match at the 2016 Division II Nationals. (Photo courtesy of KaMele Sanchez)

“They have had a tremendous impact on the team,” DeJonge said. “Not only are they a power duo of fantastic wrestlers, and what we hope to be the beginnings of a growing women’s program, but they are also true leaders on the team.”

Both currently hold officer positions on the team with Sanchez serving as club president and Davis holding the position of team treasurer. Along with their accomplishments on the mat, both are members of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association’s All-Academic Team.

Sanchez and Davis are major contributors in the development of women’s wrestling at the college level, particularly in Colorado. CSU is currently the only college wrestling program in the state of Colorado with female athletes. With just one more season left in their collegiate careers, Davis and Sanchez have already left a legacy on women’s wrestling and CSU athletics.

Collegian sports reporter Tyler Johnson can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TylerGjohnson20.