By Herman Delgado
Wrestling is a very demanding sport. It requires hard work, discipline, and most importantly…dedication. It’s even more demanding at the high school level, when an athlete must combine their schoolwork, homework, chores, and family time into a sport that you love and that you are passionate about. Grace Valadez just happens to fit that profile. Valadez a senior at Bowie High School, is a young lady who puts in the work and is passionate about the sports she competes in. She knows and understands that just showing up to practice is not going to make her a champion. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, putting in extra hours at the gym, and focusing on her goals and future, not just on the mat but in life.
Valadez wants to continue wrestling at the college level and hopes to earn a scholarship and maybe move back to Long Beach, California, where she was born and major in criminology or law enforcement. Those plans of moving back to California might have to be put on hold, because Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, so her compete at the state tournament and wanted to discuss the possibility of offering her a partial scholarship. They did not extend the offer of a full scholarship based on her wrestling experience and not placing in the tournament. Valadez said she was winning, but an old injury resurfaced, and she could not continue. “I got hurt in my match and I was winning, but an ankle injury from two years ago caused me a lot of pain and I could not continue,” said Valadez.
This past wrestling season was a good season for the 138-pound Valadez. She placed first in District 1-5A, placed second at the 1-5A Regionals at the West Texas A&M’s First United Bank Center, in Canyon, Texas on February 11, 2023, and qualified for the 2023 UIL State Wrestling Championship at the Berry Center, in Cypress, Texas, this past February 17th and 18th. Valadez informed me that she is the first Bowie Bear wrestler in the past ten years to qualify for the State Tournament, a big accomplishment for this young lady who has only been wrestling for two years. Valadez gives a lot of credit to her wrestling coach, Jacob Galvan for his teaching and guidance. She is also very proud of all her teammates, both boys and girls for guiding her and keeping her focused throughout her wrestling career. Valadez’ high school wrestling days are behind her, but she now turns her focus to the track field, where she will continue competing as a Bowie student-athlete… A sport where she excelled and had much success in qualifying for regionals the past two years in the 100-meter dash, 4x400m relays, and the 4x200m relays.
When she’s not busy on the wrestling mat or on the Bowie track field, Valadez occupies her free time by reading and focusing on her daily devotionals, as she has a strong faith in God. “God has a way of keeping me humble…keeping my feet to the ground,” said Valadez. She also spends a lot of time traveling and crossing the bridge between El Paso and Juarez, as some of her family resides in both cities. Valadez also spends a lot of her free time lifting weights and exercising at a fitness center in Juarez. I won’t question her work ethic as she proved that immediately during one of her matches I attended back in January 2023.
Valadez’ family is quite supportive of her athletic endeavors. Both her parents, Martha Vargas and Gustavo Valadez, stand behind her educational and athletic decisions as well as her two younger brothers, Yohan (16) who also attends Bowie, and Joel (12), who attends Guillen Middle School.