After making a name for herself in Northern California as one of the top female wrestlers in the state, Vanessa Ceja joined her little sister Valeria and took their skills overseas. The Ceja sisters wrestle for the Sacramento Area Wrestling Association in the Warriors off season, and through their success were invited to travel to Japan to compete in an international tournament.
Vanessa Ceja started wrestling with the Winters Wrestling Club before going into high school and now Valeria is doing the same.
“The younger the better,” said Vanessa. “Winters Wrestling club gave me the opportunity to find my love for the sport. I am Coach Andy’s (Gomez) creation, we all are.
“Wrestling for him has been an honor and now I am getting offers from as far as Canada. I would love to share that experience with many girls to come. I think it is very important to get the word out: Female wrestling is an up and coming sport.
“Currently, California leads in female wrestlers. We are the state where most females get recruited by colleges all over the nation, including Canada.
“It saddens me to see that Winters wrestling has made a name for itself outside of the town and within it no one really knows. Wrestling has put Winters on the map. You walk into any tournament in the nation and they all know Winters for its great wrestlers. I would love to see more females wrestling. They could get their college education paid for this way. Colleges and universities reach out to California girls yearly.”
Wrestling in Winters has only been around for about 15 years and when you consider that the roster is usually around 15 athletes it’s amazing the amount of success that has come out of this small community.
“Winters is known in the wrestling world as a town that has placing wrestlers at every tournament. We are a small team but we have a great reputation for outstanding athletes. My little sister and I got the opportunity through hard work and making a name for ourselves,” Vanessa said. “The trip to Japan was an experience unforgettable. It was out of this world. The culture and work ethic was great to see firsthand. Japan is the country to beat in female wrestling. We were also able to meet some Olympic wrestlers.
“I am dedicating my Senior Project to evolve the female world of wrestling. I would love to see young girls start in the sport and get further than I or Destiny Rogers ever did or will.
“My sister and I have also been invited to attend international tournaments early next year in Amsterdam and again in Japan. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. No other sport has put our town’s name so high. I hope that by sharing this experience it helps young girls to seek and look into the sport.
“Wrestling is a tough sport and only the strong survive, and in Winters we are and have very strong athletes. I hope more come out and participate in such a great sport.”