BELL, CA. – Luiza Nogueria never thought she was going to be competing at the CIF state tournament as a freshman.
Two years ago she was a middle school student in Brazil. She might not have expected to be a wrestler at all.
“Everyone tells me this is a huge accomplishment,” Nogueria said. “I don’t know what to say.”
In Nogueria’s first season as a wrestler – and first, as a postseason competitor – she finished first at the Los Angeles City section, becoming Bell’s first female state qualifier since Jessica Juarez in 2018.
Nogueira joined the wrestling team this year with high expectations. How did she win an L.A. City Section title? By drawing from wrestling jiu-jitsu all her life.
Enough similarities exist between jiujitsu and wrestling that Nogueria was able to make a smooth transition to the wrestling mat. But there was one crucial difference that head coach Jose Hernandez mentioned.
“In jiu-jitsu, you’re taught to fight on your back,” Hernandez said. “It’s hard transitioning because, even though the moves are similar, the endgame is different.”
Nogueria said she preferred grappling from her back in jiujitsu but doing that in a wrestling match would result in a pin for her opponent. Still, that extensive background made Hernandez and assistant coach David Corona believe that Nogueria could thrive as a wrestler, even if Nogueria didn’t believe it.
“My coaches had a lot more faith in me than I did in myself,” Nogueria said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it out of sectionals.”
But Nogueria did, winning the Los Angeles City Section by pinning No. 1 seed Mia Gonzales (San Fernando) in the third period and finishing with three falls in the tournament.
At the state tournament, Nogueria was so nervous she made a few mistakes that cause her to lose the match via a fall to Isabelle Hawley (Temecula Valley). Nevertheless, her coaches spoked to her to come back in the wrestle backs and attempt to get a medal.
She won three matches in the consolation bracket before losing in overtime to Kai Kenney of Durham in the blood round. The experience at the state tournament has motivated Nogueria to become Bell High's first-ever state medal winner next year.
“We can’t wait to get back to the drawing boards and work on her mistakes to help her achieved her goal of becoming a state champion,” said Coach Hernandez.