Leader of the Pack Tournament

East Los Angeles College hosted the 2nd annual Leader of the Pack women’s wrestling tournament on Saturday, April 6. Nine of the 12 California community college women’s wrestling teams participated. Mollie Jimenez wrestled in three bouts in the tournament. She won two and lost one to claim the silver medal in the 109-pound weight class.

vs Lucy Guadarrama, Cerritos College

Leader of the Pack tournament, Bout 6 — Mollie Jimenez, ELAC vs Lucy Guadarrama, Cerritos College

Mollie Jimenez, Freshman, East Los Angeles College vs Lucy Guadarrama, Sophomore Cerritos College. in a 109-pound weight class wrestling match at the ELAC South Gym. Here, Guadarrama is on top of Jimenez trying to pin her to the wrestling mat.
Mollie Jimenez, Fr. ELAC, vs Lucy Guadarrama, So. Cerritos College. Guadarrama won by fall at 1:40 and went on to finish #1 in the 109-pound weight class

Mollie Jimenez, Embracing the Mask

She doesn’t do flying leaps off the ropes. No over-the-top performances. No macho-woman atmosphere. And she doesn’t wear a mask. Or does she? Just a year into her wrestling career, ELAC 109-pound weight class wrestler Jimenez had lost all of her bouts this season. A week ago, she bleached her hair and dyed it pink. The next day, she won her first bout of the season. Since then, she’s been mostly winning.

Is a luchador’s mask, or Jimenez’ neon pink hair a performance? Something put on? Or a peek behind the curtain at an authentic self?

A family tradition?

With a high school wrestling father and a stepfather and Nino who were both luchadors, was Jimenez destined to become a wrestler? Maybe. But it took a while.

As a freshman at Mountain View High School in El Monte, Jimenez was infatuated with wrestling and thought it’d be cool to join. Then COVID happened, and her sophomore year was online. Back on campus as a junior, she had the wrestling flyer in her hand, put it in her backpack, and said to herself, “I’m gonna do it.” She tried to get a friend to try wrestling with her, but no one was interested, and she didn’t go. And then it was her senior year, and Jimenez said to herself,

Jimenez’ dad always talked about wrestling. He loved being in the wrestling room but couldn’t do tournaments because he always got grade cut. When he finally got his grades up, he got a job and couldn’t wrestle anymore. Her stepdad had her older sister when he was about 18 and couldn’t wrestle anymore either. They had to stop because they had responsibilities. They both talk about their sadness at leaving the sport. Jimenez feels that part of her motivation to be a wrestler is seeing what they couldn’t do and being inspired to make it happen in her life.

vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College

Leader of the Pack tournament, Bout 29 — Mollie Jimenez, ELAC vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College

Mollie Jimenez, East Los Angeles College vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College. Close-up image of Jimenez with her arms around Zamora. Jimenez' bright pink hair stands out at the top of the image.
Mollie Jimenez, Fr. ELAC, vs Stephany Zamora, Fr. Santa Ana College. Jimenez won by fall at 3:00. Zamora finished 3rd in the 109-pound weight class.
Mollie Jimenez vs Stephany Zamora, 109-pound weight class. Jimenez with pink hair and Zamora with red hair. Here Zamora is wrapped over Jimenez' back as Jimenez tries to lift her off the mat.
Mollie Jimenez, ELAC, vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College.

I like the aggression

When Jimenez’ senior year of high school wrestling ended, she tried joining track but didn’t enjoy it. Finally having started, now it was all about wrestling for her. She likes the contact, being hands-on, being aggressive. “I think it’s fun to get aggressive with people,” Jimenez said. She also says that she found in wrestling something she never had before: a place where there were others similar to her,

A women's wrestler's body is stretched out on top of another who is on her knees attempting to lift.
Mollie Jimenez, ELAC, vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College.
Two wrestlers standing, and pacing as they look at each other and prepare to make contact. This image looks across Zamora's shoulder toward Jimenez who has a cat-like stealthy look as she stares at Zamora.
Stealthy — Jimenez and Zamora circle each other before making contact.
Close-up image of one wrestler on top of another attempting to pin her.
Mollie Jimenez, ELAC, vs Stephany Zamora, Santa Ana College.
Leader of the Pack wrestling tournament at East Los Angeles College. A referee holds up Mollie Jimenez' hand indicating that she has won the bout in the 109-pound weight class.
Winner, Mollie Jimenez, ELAC, 109-pound weight class.

Conditioning, Stamina, and Mental Toughness

Jimenez says that she enjoys the conditioning. She likes how hard it is. She feels that the team’s hard conditioning helps a lot with stamina. They get less tired during a match, feel good mentally, and keep driving. She says,

Cutting Weight

Jimenez wrestled in the 103-pound class in high school and now in the 109-pound in college. She and her ELAC practice partner were both 109 and someone had to cut down to 102 or ELAC would forfeit matches. She says, “it was between me and her, so coach chose her (laughs) I’m so grateful!”

Even 109 has been challenging for Jimenez. She thinks that she’s been stress-eating too much as the season wraps up. Yesterday, she woke up and weighed herself,

She says that weight cutting is really hard, but also that it’s part of what she values in her sport. That the discipline is, “part of why all of us like it in some way.”

vs Amber Chatterton, Bakersfield College

Leader of the Pack tournament, Bout 52 — Mollie Jimenez, ELAC vs Amber Chatterton, Bakersfield College

Image of Amber Chatterton, 109-pound wrestler from Bakersfield College warming up and wearing a blanket before her match.
Amber Chatterton, 109-pound, Fr. Bakersfield College, warming up before her bout with Mollie Jimenez. Many athletes brought blankets, probably for the long, cold bus ride to ELAC and the early hours in the gym.
Image of Mollie Jimenez, 109-pound weight class wrestler warming up before her bout with Amber Chatterton. Jimenez wears a green, oversized "ELAC Women's Wrestling" sweatshirt and jumps up and down.
Like Amber Chatterton of Bakersfield, Jimenez warms up before their bout with jumping and small sprints.

War + Peace

Jimenez wishes she could be friends with her opponents. She also had a history of being called for unnecessary aggressiveness in high school. Wrestling seems to pull so much of our deepest humanity to the surface. Conflicts. Emotions. Nurturing. Fight or flight.

Jimenez likes it when she smiles at an opponent, and they smile back. She feels that they have so much in common, like a community. It makes her a little sad that she found this community so late.

Mollie Jimenez, Freshman, East Los Angeles College vs Amber Chatterton, Freshman, Bakersfield College. 109-pound weight class. Here Jimenez has a grip on Chatterton's leg as she lunges toward the mat.
Mollie Jimenez, Fr. ELAC, vs Amber Chatterton, Fr. Bakersfield College. Jimenez won by fall at 0:28. Chatterton finished 4th in the weight class.
A wrestler is face down on the mat, but with her arms pushing her upper body off the mat as another wrestler holds her from above.
Mollie Jimenez, ELAC, vs Amber Chatterton, Bakersfield College.

Wrestling is hard!

“College wrestling is hard!” says Jimenez. When she asks multisport friends about other sports, they say, “‘No, wrestling is harder,’ and I’m like, yeah, cool.” She loves pushing herself physically and mentally. It’s something she’s never done before, and it makes her feel overwhelmed, and she likes that.

She plans to wrestle for ELAC again next year and then head to Cal Poly Pomona for a business degree. Cal Poly has no wrestling program,

Mollie Jimenez, Silver Medalist

After hours of morning setup for the tournament, and hours of wrestling and waiting and wrestling again, and before hours of cleanup, medals were awarded. Jimenez placed second in the 109-pound weight class and received a silver medal. It seemed to fit her just right.

Series of three images. First image Mollie Jimenez shakes hands with Bakersfield College women's wrestling coach Andrea Prise. In the second image East Los Angeles College women's wrestling coach Angel Solis puts his arm around Jimenez after she has won her bout with Amber Chatterton from Baksrsfield College. In the third image 160-pound weight class wrestler Galilea Garcia-Salazar hands a cell phone to 109-pound weight class wrestler Mollie Jimenez.
Mollie Jimenez receives a handshake from Bakersfield coach Andrea Prise, a hug from ELAC coach Angel Solis, and her phone back from teammate Galilea Garcia-Salazar.

California Community College Women’s Wrestling

ELAC vs Mt. San Antonio College, Feb. 29

Series of two images. In the first image two wrestlers pose after rolling up the large wrestling mat. In the second image two wrestlers collect trash from the bleachers after the tournament has concluded.
The glamorous life — win silver and clean up the gym. Jimenez helps roll up the wrestling mat and collects trash from the stands.

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