Senior Zariah Gonzales practices with her teammate, senior Alisha Hernandez.

Zariah Gonzales is no stranger to crossing boundaries.

After football season ended, an urgency to fill that void bubbled inside. Since this is her senior year, she realized that with life going by so fast, she didn’t want to leave high school with any regrets. Not joining the wrestling team would’ve been one of them.

On Feb. 6, Gonzales competed at sections with a 3-2 record, and had one match left to guarantee her a spot at state.

By the end of her fifth match, she was in tears. Not from the loss, but from the prospect that she could potentially advance to state.

“They told me: ‘You have two matches left. You have to win one of them,'” she said.

She remembers the moment she realized her abilities, letting go of any insecurities she once held on to. She was going to advance no matter what.

“For a moment, I started underestimating myself,” she said. “I underestimated myself my whole life.”

She connects this experience at sections with her athletic career in football. Gonzales surprised everyone by becoming the first girl to play on the team for all four years of high school.

“People thought I would last two days,” she said. “I lasted four years.”

With only two months of wrestling experience, Gonzales again shocked everyone, even herself. Pinning one of the most experienced wrestlers in the league, she advanced to state with a fifth place spot, becoming the first girl from the wrestling team to advance to state level in three years.

Despite her lack in experience, Gonzales claims her victory came from the physical and mental strength she gained from football and boxing when she was younger. She says she admires the sportsmanship that comes with wrestling, which contrasts from her experience in team sports like football, where her frustration gets the best of her.

“I realized that I have the potential to be better (at wrestling,)” she said. “If I lose, I suck it up.”

She won’t be wrestling in any league matches to avoid injuries; instead, all her energy and effort will be saved for state. With less than three weeks until the competition, Gonzales is being coached by the last female wrestler who made it to state back in 2012. Gonzales will be wrestling against the alumnus during practice to try new moves and go over the ones she already knows in order to perfect them.

“I have a lot of work ahead of me,” she said. “I’m not done.”