MATTAWA — Laly Gonzalez-Nunez had no idea who she was going to wrestle in her first-ever state tournament match.
Not an inkling.
Her coaches left the opponent a mystery — for good reason.
“They said, ‘We’re not going to tell you. You’re just going to have to try as hard as you can,” Gonzalez-Nunez said.
The opponent was Flor Parker-Borrero of Lakes.
A three-time state champion and Tacoma News Tribune Untouchable in 2018, Parker-Borrero had just one previous loss.
And then something no one could have predicted happened.
“When we were waiting for her (Parker-Borrero) to come to the mat, we were waiting there for around two to four minutes then her coach came by and said she’s not wrestling, she got injured,” Gonzalez-Nunez said.
Parker-Borrero injury defaulted in the first round against Gonzalez-Nunez and then again in her first consolation match, ending her tournament.
For Gonzalez-Nunez, it was only the beginning.
The unknown freshman who started wrestling in seventh grade suddenly found herself in the state quarterfinals.
“Before we were wrestling I prayed so much,” Gonzalez-Nunez said. “I think I can win this match because I made it this far.”
Already ahead on points, Gonzalez-Nunez pinned junior Lindsey Crawford of Stanwood in the third round.
Two matches, two wins, one Friday to remember; Wahluke High School would be represented in the state semifinals.
Then, the nerves arrived.
“Saturday, I got more pressure because my family was there and they were so proud of me,” Gonzalez-Nunez said. “I was shocked that I had made it through to the second day because nobody in the school from girls had made it to the second day... I did it.”
Up next, Nevaeh Cassidy of Union.
“Semifinals was hard. The girl was really tough.”
And yet, Gonzalez-Nunez found an opening in the second round for another win by fall.
“She (Cassidy) was messing up at times so I just got her when she messed up the most and I just pinned her in that moment,” she said. “After the ref blew the whistle I screamed out, ‘Yeah!’ I went up to my coach like, ‘I’m going to the finals! I’m going to the finals! I can’t believe this! I can’t believe this!
I was like freaking out. I was shaking.”
Gonzalez-Nunez would go on to be pinned in the 145-pound championship by Kiley Hubby of Glacier Peak. However, that loss did not sour an otherwise remarkable tournament run.
“It didn’t really matter if I got second or first,” Gonzalez-Nunez said. “I was just happy that I got there from me losing in the beginning of the season, to going to state, and actually placing in the finals.”
However, wrestling isn’t the only thing for Gonzalez-Nunez. She also plays soccer and softball, in addition to a job in George. But there’s something cathartic about take-downs, reversals and escapes.
“I’m stressed because of school and I get a lot of anger in me so coming to wrestling just getting all my anger out, getting it out on the mat, just makes me less stressed,” Gonzalez-Nunez said. “When you get your first win and that ref holds up your hand, that’s like a life-changer right there.”
This season, Gonzalez-Nunez was a tournament runner-up at the Warden Invite and is ranked No. 7 at 155 pounds.
“I just want to try as hard as I can and keep winning,” she said.