When Adacelli Noriega steps onto the mat she’s a different person.
A shy, soft spoken freshman at Bisbee turns into a force on the wrestling mat. In her first high school wrestling season Noriega is 13-0 and had finished first in the four girls tournaments she’s competed in. Her most recent win came last weekend at Flowing Wells.
“She’s so soft spoken, but has a heart of gold,” said Bisbee’s boys wrestling coach Rich Chavez.
Noriega first started wrestling when she was in the fourth grade. She said she was at her cousin’s wrestling meet and was intrigued. It was then her mother told her to go wrestle her brother, and she became hooked.
“I get to wrestle my heart out,” Noriega said when asked what she likes about the sport. “Working hard and getting my practice in to get better (has caused me to be successful).”
Noriega’s success this season has come as a surprise to her but not her coach, Mike Chavez, who has been with her since she started.
“Her work ethic has been unreal since fourth grade,” he said. “She comes, she works everyday. She does the little things other people don’t want to do and that’s what sets her apart.”
The 14-year-old has worked on two things this year that are helping her on the mat: her discipline with maintaining her weight, and building her strength. Rich said last year she struggled to maintain her weight but this year she has consistently been two pounds under 120 to wrestling in that weight class.
Noriega says she’s more conscious of weight because she doesn’t want to go up in weight classes since she’s comfortable there and is what she’s familiar with. The biggest adjustment the freshman said she had to make from the middle school level to the high school competition was becoming stronger. In order to do so she is on a strength building program that allows her to build strength but not muscle mass as that would make her weight go up.
“She can’t get intimidated,” Mike said. “She never backs down from a challenge.”
Noriega said her win at Flowing Wells was the highlight of the season so far because it was the championship match was the first time she had to come from behind to win and she pinned her opponent with four seconds left in the final round. Noriega is the first female from Bisbee High School to win at Flowing Wells.
Her performance in Tucson didn’t just stick out to her coaches. Mike said he was approached by the Arizona girls wrestling team’s coach to offer her an invite to their week-long camp in Phoenix over spring break. After the camp the Bisbee coaches are hoping to take her to the USA national tournament for girls wrestling in Colorado Springs to get her more experience and exposure.
Noriega’s goal is to earn a wrestling scholarship for college so she can continue her passion while continuing her education.
“I don’t want to stop,” she said. “I really love the sport.”