CALDWELL, Idaho — Not only is Marissa Jimenez from Caldwell one of the best, if not the best, female wrestlers in Idaho, she's also now one of the best international wrestlers.
Jimenez won the gold medal at the Pan-American World Championship Tournament in Mexico.
"I was in shock kind of and I was like, 'I didn’t just do that,'" Jimenez said. "I was just extremely happy."
It was her first international wrestling match, and winning it all is something she says still doesn't feel real.
“When I won it, I was really surprised at myself that I could do that," Jimenez said. "They had me run across the stage with our flag. It was awesome."
The tournament brought competitors from all across the world together. Jimenez wrestled a girl from Barbados and then Peru to win her weight group.
"It was cool to see all the different styles, like not only my wrestling but just being in the arena with a bunch of people that were wrestling different styles and seeing how diverse they were was a great experience," Jimenez said.
Not only is she winning on the mat, but Jimenez is also using the sport and her platform to inspire other females to wrestle.
“It’s exciting for me to be a role model for these little girls and middle school and high schoolers as well to show that it doesn’t take that long. You don’t have to be wrestling your whole life to do this," Jimenez said. "It’s something you can achieve if you try hard enough.”
She plans on competing in other world tournaments and has big goals to make the Olympic team.
But for now, Jimenez is happy to see girls wrestling become a growing sport in Idaho.
"When I went on the team, most of the girls were from Illinois or California or Texas and Georgia," Jimenez said. "When I told them I was from Idaho, they just looked at me and were like, 'oh, they have wrestling over there?' and so it was cool for me coming from Idaho and showing that girls wrestling here can be at that level.”
Jimenez will wrestle next at Fargo Nationals in July.