Minutes after clinching her third state championship in wrestling, Adelyhda “Lala” Perez leapt into the crowd at the Berry Center in Cypress to embrace her father, John Perez, who has been her lifelong trainer. She was processing a jumble of thoughts – a promise to a late friend, prospective tattoo, and college plans – as she soaked in the closing moments of her final school wrestling trip.
Her state tournament experience started on a high note last Friday, with a pin 12 seconds into her first match, marking her quickest win ever. From there, she bested two of the other top four girls in the 138-pound weight class before winning 2-0 in the championship match and, for the second consecutive year, ripping apart Frisco Liberty star Ashley Cook’s dreams for a gold medal.
The two met in the title match last year, then competing in the 148-pound weight class of the University Interscholastic League’s Class 5A. It did not come as too much of a surprise to Adelyhda this year when she learned Cook had also dropped weight and landed in her new division.
“I wanted to look better in my uniform,” Adelyhda said, breaking into a smile, when asked why she changed weight divisions. She hoped colleges would see she could lose weight and still be as effective.
Before the championship match on Saturday, Adelyhda knew she had to win, to keep a promise as well as further her career aspirations. Still, she was slightly nervous as the returning champion, knowing Cook had more to prove.
“I thought she would come back hard and stronger because of redemption,” Adelyhda said, acknowledging that was true. She dedicated this championship to John Van Meter, a Uvalde boxer who was killed at his home in January. The two were close from years of sharing the same training space at Uvalde Memorial Park, where the Uvalde Wrestling Club and Tree City Boxing Club both meet.
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