A lifetime of dedication put to the final test

From gymnast to wrestler, Karina Quiros looks to grab gold for her senior season.

Culminating four years of wrestling and lifelong dedication to athletics, senior Karina Quiros prepares for the last part of her high school wrestling career, as she heads to district competition Friday, with big goals in mind for the end of her senior season. 

“As a gymnast, I trained four hours a day, so I think it was about 25 hours a week. I did a lot of training,” Quiros said. “I actually ended up training a level higher than I actually was, because I had the skill, and then I won state early on in the first few years for floor.” 

Even though she found success as a gymnast, high school brought around new opportunities with sports that Quiros could step into. 

“Ashton Stevens, who used to wrestle here, she did gymnastics with me as well, and she said, ‘Hey, after quitting gymnastics, I went into wrestling, and it’s really good for a gymnast to go into wrestling, so you should try that too,’” Quiros said. “I found my freshman year, it was a lot easier for me to get into wrestling, because I had the strength, the flexibility I was I knew how to move with my own body.”

She found that her skills as a gymnast translated well into wrestling. 

“It was kind of weird because I wasn’t really aggressive, I was really a calm, quiet person,” Quiros said. “So trying to get myself to be more aggressive was really hard, but being able to manipulate other people’s bodies, and my own body was a lot easier than a lot of other kids when they first started.” 

For head wrestling coach Cody Bridwell, not only did her physical skills from gymnastics transfer, but some aspects of her mindset did as well. 

“I always nicknamed her gymnast because I found out she was in gymnastics and quite a high level of gymnastics,” head wrestling coach Cody Bridwell said. “That’s a sport like wrestling that shows a ton of dedication and time and effort, so I could tell if you’re coming in as a gymnast, you aren’t afraid to work on your craft and hone your skill.”

Quiros’ mother, Karina Zarate saw wrestling open a new chapter for her daughter, and restart her passion for competition. 

“The life of a gymnast is really tough, and while it taught her a lot of discipline and helped her build a strong work ethic, transitioning to wrestling lit a fire in her soul,” Zarate said. “The first two years were tough. She came in with a lot of injuries from gymnastics and then continued to have some rough patches in wrestling, but the summer before her junior year it just clicked and she knew what she wanted.” 

Karina Zarate
Starting her journey in athletics young, Quiros did competitive gymnastics from ages four to twelve. Even after a successful career as a gymnast, Quiros really found her calling when joining wrestling with a fellow gymnast as a freshman.

The years of wear and tear on her body began to take effect in 2015, preventing Quiros from wrestling full speed as a freshman. 

“I was out mostly my I was out the majority of my freshman year. My sophomore year was kind of iffy, and then I just wanted to be better. So I tried, and I did,” Quiros said. “I worked out three times a day, every day in the summer, and I just worked really hard. And then I went, I placed that state my first year, with a torn shoulder, so I thought that was pretty good.” 

But even with a two year deficit on many of her opponents, Quiros went the extra mile to catch up to the competition. 

“She kind of had to learn what mistakes she was making, usually by getting pin or having issues, but then she also decided to reach out for some outside help and got some private lessons,” Bridwell said. “It has basically educated her faster, because most wrestlers get started around here when they’re in middle school. The true wrestlers get started when they’re in middle school, and then they get up to the high school it’s just more of a polish. But with her, she’s crammed a lot of learning into a short amount of time, which has helped her to be very, very successful.” 

As a junior, Quiros started setting her sights high, and dedicating all of her energy to improving her skills and mindset.

“I’m a pretty hard worker, I can get my head in the game when I want to do better, so if I have a goal in mind, then I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it’s done,” Quiros said. “Last year, my goal was to place at state, and I knew that I wasn’t as skilled as a lot of the other girls were, so I just made sure I really focused on that and I had to really work as much as I could.” 

After joining wrestling, Zarate saw Quiros make wrestling a focus, and pour her time and energy into improving her mind and body together. 

“Wrestling has become a lifestyle for her,” Zarate said. “She started to run and joined cross country. She joined cross fit, she attends Stars, she puts in extra time on the mat some nights, and she runs before morning practice. Like her teammates, she juggles that with her studies.” 

This dedication not only improved her skills, but earned her a captain position of the team her senior year. 

“I think as a captain and she, she takes a lot of ownership in the team, and she views this as her team, both guys and girls, it’s her team, and that’s how I want my captains to be,” Bridwell said. “We’re there to kind of guide them along the way, but a lot of leadership and drive has to come from them, from within.”

Her new position on the team has helped her not only hold others accountable, but keep herself at a higher standard, on and off the mat. 

“Being a captain, my actions are seen by everyone, especially now that I have the title of Captain,” Quiros said. “If they see me slacking off or not doing my best one day, then that kind of just reflects as a leader, and that’s not what a leader is. So you have to really set the example you have to really do things outside of school. People see that and they see your dedication, and they just know how much you really love the sport and what you need to do in order to be successful.” 

If I have a goal in mind, then I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it’s done”

— Senior Karina Quiros

More than anything, Zarate has seen her dedication to the sport help her mature and grow as a person. 

“It has brought about some very good discussions about life that we may have otherwise not had an opportunity to discuss. Her brother has learned so much from her as well and he wants to follow in her footsteps,” Zarate said. “I believe it has taught her that the match isn’t always about a pin or a medal, or a place. It’s about the choices she makes, the work she puts in, and the humility she does it with. It has definitely made her a stronger and tougher individual all the way around.” 

After taking sixth in state her junior year, Quiros is aiming for the title her senior season. 

“My goal is to win districts, win regionals, and then place higher than I did last year at state,” Quiros said. “I know last year, I was in a different weight class, but I think this year, I still can do better than I did last year.” 

Zarate looks forward to seeing her daughter’s hard work come together, and is excited to see Quiros leave it all on the mat. 

“Her dad and I hope that no matter what the outcome, she always remembers what it feels like to pin and be pinned,” Zarate said. “We hope that she can finish the season confident that she did everything in her power to achieve her goals.”

As her journey to state begins Friday at the District UIL tournament, Quiros looks to put her years of hard work into action, and earn what she has worked toward for years. 

 “At first, I was a little nervous, but I think I have to know that I’ve worked harder than a lot of the other girls in my weight class, and I know I have more technique than they do,” Quiros said. “I just put in more work then they did. I did everything I could and just to make sure that I was ahead of those girls. So I think I’ll be really good, and then I think I’ll do really well in districts and regions and then state I hope that the amount of effort I put in really shows.”