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Wrestling: Broomfield girls team building around Fairview veteran

Sydney Wu combining efforts from multiple sports into wrestling success

Broomfield High School's Sydney Wu poses ...
Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
Broomfield High School’s Sydney Wu poses for a portrait in the wrestling room on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.

Wrestling and martial arts have been a passion of Fairview’s Sydney Wu for quite some time, and until recently that meant the junior grappler had to compete with the boys at the high school level. That is, until Broomfield High School stepped up to the plate to create Boulder Valley School District’s inaugural girls wrestling team.

After the COVID-19 pandemic scrapped the Eagles’ plans to initiate the team last season, Wu has played a critical role in drumming up interest in the program among prospective athletes. Now, the Eagles can build around a seasoned veteran in its first year of existence.

“She’s been the one who’s basically been putting together this team, long before I was even a thought or part of this,” head coach Katherine Shai said. “She’s kind of had her eye on making this a real thing. For her, it sounds like it’s been beyond just like, ‘I want a team for me.’ She wants to have a team around her and she wants to be someone who can lead her teammates and lead a group of young ladies to wrestle because she loves it so much.”

Just four weeks into the season, Wu’s dedication has already proven a major asset to a squad of mostly first-year wrestlers. The female side of the sport is fairly new to her as well, so she’s learning alongside them in some ways.

It’s already proving beneficial to her mat game.

“Up until a few weeks ago when I started wrestling with Broomfield, I had never wrestled with girls before,” Wu explained. “That, and of course, wrestling with coach Shai who is a world-class wrestler, has been just amazing. Even though a lot of these girls had never wrestled before, I found that I can still get a lot better at wrestling when I’m wrestling with them. They say that to teach is the best way to learn. … Being able to show girls moves that I’ve done for years, I’m like, ‘Oh, well maybe this is a better way to do it.’”

Wrestling is far from Wu’s only interest as she juggles six different sports depending on the time of year. Her journey to the mat began with jiu-jitsu a few years ago and eventually shifted into adding muay thai to the mix.

Those two sports lent way to her wrestling career and, in some ways, helped improve it as wrestling did the same for them.

“In muay thai, you strike and it’s a very different energy,” she explained. “Between jiu-jitsu and muay thai, there are a lot of similarities, just with them both being grappling. I found that my brilliant plan worked. I am now much better at jiu-jitsu than I was. After doing martial arts for so many years, you really get to learn the way your opponent moves, the way you can move them, influence them and how you can learn from other people, whether they’re better than you, whether it’s their first day, how you can learn to be better at the thing that you’re doing.”

Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer
BROOMFIELD, CO – DECEMBER 7:Broomfield High School’s Sydney Wu poses for a portrait in the wrestling room on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

That overlap and experience have already proven successful for the 2021-22 season. Just last week, she won the Pueblo Central Lady Wildcat Invite in the 136-pound weight class. Shai, who’s new to coaching high school girls full-time, was impressed with the way Wu adapted after every match and maintained her mental toughness throughout the long, exhausting day.

Wu believes her three other sports — swimming, tennis and mountain biking — helped toughen her up. She credits swimming for giving her a strong upper body and thinks mountain biking has helped strengthen her legs. That, she believes, is what makes her so good at sprawling.

Shai is excited to see where wrestling can take Wu in the future but for now, she’s grateful to have such a skilled athlete in her corner. After all, she’s already off to a great start.

“She goes in with the attitude that she can take anyone down, which is a really good thing and I like that,” Shai said. “Even if the match is not going her way, from what I’ve seen so far, she’ll figure out the way to start turning it back around. She finds a way, and I think that’s a really, really special quality in a young athlete.”

Bringing it home: 2021 state results
Team champions: Pomona (5A), Cheyenne Mountain (4A), Pagosa Springs (3A), Centauri (2A), Chatfield (girls division).
106: Ane’e Vigil, Prairie View (5A)*; Jackzen Rairdon, Thompson Valley (4A)*; Dale O’Blia, Mullen (3A)*; Caleb Camp, Buena Vista (2A)*.
113: Kenny Sailas, Brighton (5A); Kobi Johnson, Loveland (4A)*; Roberto Estrada, Weld Central (3A)*; Levi Martin, Mancos (2A)*.
120: Jakob Romero, Pomona (5A)*; Eric Griego, Pueblo County (4A); Davion Chavez, Alamosa (3A); Lane Hunsberger, Cedaredge (2A)*.
126: Elijah Olguin, Pomona (5A)*; Dominic Hargrove, Discovery Canyon, Jr. (4A)*; D`mitri Garza-Alarcon, Fort Lupton (3A)*; Dale VanMatre, John Mall (2A).
132: Armando Garcia, Denver East (5A); Cody Thompson, Loveland (4A); Zach Marrero, Strasburg (3A)*; Oran Huff, Lyons (2A).
138: Vince Cornella, Monarch (5A); Ryan Vigil, Broomfield (4A)*; Brady Hankin, Woodland Park (3A)*; Zach Tittle, Highland (2A)*.
145: Daniel Cardenas, Pomona (5A)*; Vance Vombaur, Windsor (4A); Zane Rankin, Lamar (3A); Eyan Chavez, Centauri (2A)*.
152: Antonio Segura, Regis Jesuit (5A); Jacob Bierman, Thompson Valley (4A); Isaiah Rios, Valley (3A); Tyler Colins, Wray (2A).
160: Cody Ginther, Fossil Ridge (5A); Isaias Estrada, Thomas Jefferson (4A); Cameron Lucero, Pagosa Springs (3A); Traycer Hall, Hotchkiss (2A).
170: Draygan Colonese, Pine Creek (5A); Mitchell Nowlan, Coronado (4A); Mac Copeland, Bennett (3A); Jack Ring, Highland (2A)*.
182: Jacob Badger, Chatfield (5A); Xavier Freeman, Pueblo East (4A)*; Cody DuBois, Bennett (3A); Remington Peterson, Rye (2A)*.
195: Jack Forbes, Columbine (5A); Nico Gagliardi, Cheyenne Mountain (4A)*; Braden Baumgartner, Weld Central (3A); Colby Clatterbaugh, Meeker (2A).
220: Franklin Cruz, Pomona (5A); Jake Boley, Cheyenne Mountain (4A); Jeremiah Garcia, Platte Valley (3A); Anthony Miller, Paonia (2A).
285: Zach Schraeder, Columbine (5A); Matthew Moore, Mesa Ridge (4A)*; James Hustoles, James Irwin (3A); Laith Ibrahim, Wiggins (2A)*.
* – Eligible to return in 2021-22.

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