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Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, February 23, 2000

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Cathy Migita, left, and Kristin Fujioka will compete for national titles.


Castle’s Migita
and Fujioka wrestle
with success

The juniors have earned
berths in a national girls'
competition next week

By Tim Crouse
Special to the Star-Bulletin


It's cold and snowy in Michigan this time of year, but for a pair of local wrestlers, it will be a great place to be next week.

Cathy Migita and Kristin Fujioka, both juniors at Castle High School, are heading East to compete in the girls' national wrestling tournament at Lake Orion, Mich.

"It's an honor for them to be able to go," said Castle coach Ben Guerrero. "We take the girls who have worked the hardest and those who have a chance to win."

Migita and Fujioka also will take part in the state championships this weekend at the Blaisdell Arena.

It will be the third state tournament in girls' wrestling, and Castle has had a state champ in at least one weight class the past two years.

Migita, who is 5-foot-5 and wrestles in the 121-pound weight division, and Fujioka, 4-11 and 98 pounds, picked up the sport less than two years ago.

But their dedication and work habits have made up for lost time.

"They're the hardest workers on the team," said Guerrero. "When practice starts at 4:30, they're here at 3:45. They come early and stay late.

"(Their success) is because of their dedication and how much time they devote to wrestling," he added.

"I think wrestling is one of the hardest sports because you have to be quick and strong," Migita said.

She said that as each wrestler learns and gets better, they have to find moves that work for them.

The coaches teach certain moves in practice, but Migita said those moves aren't necessarily the best moves for a certain individual.

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
Kristin Fujioka, rear, practices her take down on teammate
Cathy Migita during practice on Tuesday afternoon.

"If you want to learn moves that you're going to do, you have to put in the extra time," she said.

Guerrero said the extra time they spend before and after practice is used to perfect their technique. He said they do technique drills over and over.

Almost every day they practice against boys.

"It helps them better themselves," Guerrero said.

He said that since the boys weigh more and are usually stronger, the girls have to be better with their technique.

"It helps you get better when you wrestle someone better and stronger than you," Guerrero said.

But for this weekend's state tournament, and next week's national competition, they'll only have to wrestle against other girls.

"If you want to get somewhere, you have to do it yourself. No one else is going to cover up for you," Migita said. "When you're out there on the mat, everything you worked for (is on the line) and no one else is going to be able to help you."

Migita said she saw wrestling as a new challenge, and liked the sport because it gave her entire body a workout and she was able to get stronger.

She said she's been able to do so well in the sport in such a short time because she asks a lot of questions and just tries to learn as much as she can each day.

Fujioka participated in karate before starting wrestling, and she also competes in judo.

Guerrero said Fujioka's involvement in those martial arts has helped her in wrestling, especially in the area of balance.

Both girls said their parents and friends were surprised when they told them they wanted to start wrestling.

"They were shocked," Fujioka said of her parents' reaction.

But after a year and a half on the mat, she has picked up an identity.

"Everyone knows me as Kristin the wrestler," Fujioka said.

"A lot of people say, 'Oh, you're wrestling?'

"And my friends thought it was weird, but I think most people are amazed because it's girls' wrestling," Migita said.

Migita, Fujioka and the 10 other local wrestlers going to the nationals have a lot to live up to.

Sixteen wrestlers from Hawaii went to the tournament last year, which featured more than 400 competitors from around the country, and the team finished second only to Michigan.

"We're not going to take someone who is going to go over there and (not do well)," Guerrero said. "We go there to win."

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