After winning a state championship title on Saturday, you would never think that Albany High School junior Chanel Chawalit first stepped foot on a wrestling mat just last year.
She attended the CIF Girls Wrestling State Invitational Championship on Friday and Saturday in Lemoore and defeated competitor Teasia Lizama 9-3 in the 126-pound final. She wrestled a total of five times those two days. There were 24 wrestlers in her weight class.
Leading up to the championship, Chawalit had an undefeated season of 33-0. According to wrestling coach Kermit Bankson, this is pretty rare. For more than four decades, he's been in charge of the wrestling program at AHS.
"She's one of the hardest-working kids I've ever had," he said. "This will open some doors for her."
After making great strides, Bankson is confident that Chawalit can take on another championship before graduating next year. No other student wrestler of Bankson's has won two girls state championships before.
"She could be the first," he said.