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Bulldog Pata ready for new challenge
Julia Pata will earn her ninth varsity letter this winter as a member of Ceres Highs girls wrestling team. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Ceres High senior Julia Pata strives to be the best at everything.

"Monopoly. Uno. Whenever I tell jokes, I want to be the funniest person in the room," she said. "I don't like to lose at anything. I'm a competitive person."

Pata will earn her ninth varsity letter this winter when she wrestles for the Bulldogs for the first time.

A standout in girls swimming, water polo and track and field, Julia envisions competing at a high level on the mat.

"If you work hard every day, you're doing to do amazing things," Julia said.

Head coach Steve Festa believes Pata will have a successful campaign with the Bulldogs.

"She's got a lot of potential," Festa said. "With her attitude, athleticism and willingness to work hard, she could be a state qualifier this year. She's coachable. She's very athletic and strong. What she lacks in experience, she can more than make up with her aggressiveness. She's already come a long way in the first month."

"I'd really like to get first in the WAC in my weight class," Pata said.

Pata won by major decision (11-1) over Talia Mauricio during Ceres High's Red & White intra-squad scrimmage on Nov. 23 at Phil de la Porte Gymnasium.

Mauricio placed seventh while competing in the 152-pound division at the Sac-Joaquin Section Southern Regional Qualifier as a junior.

"I decided to do wrestling because I thought it would be a good experience," Pata said. "I was very nervous the first day of practice. I'm being taught new things every day. The most difficult part is you really have to think well on your feet. It also requires a lot of strength. It's terribly hard."

"We train at a high level," Festa said. "She's shown a toughness to keep up and set a pace. She's here to make an impact. She wants to make a name for herself."

Julia will in all likelihood be voted Ceres High's top female athlete for the second year in a row this spring.

"Sports are my thing," Pata said.

A four-time section qualifier in swimming, Julia has claimed six individual Western Athletic Conference titles.

Julia earned all-WAC honors all four seasons in water polo, including first-team accolades three times.

A newcomer track and field as a junior, Pata advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships.

She placed 22nd in the shot put.

Julia finished finish at Divisionals.

Pata took second in the shot put and discus at the WAC finals.

She shocked just about everybody in attendance when she uncorked a throw of 39 feet, two inches to win the shot put at the Modesto Junior College Invitational. Pata obliterated the old meet record of 35-7, which was set in 2011.

"I really like wrestling," Pata said. "When the light comes down, it puts so much pressure on you. I love it. It's a big thrill. There's a lot of adrenaline. You can't blame anyone else for how you perform. It's an individual sport. But the team is there for you no matter if you win or lose."

"She's a winner," Festa said. "That can be contagious to the other girls and boys around her."