Lexy Cordova suffered a black eye as the result of a head butt while competing against Patterson on Feb. 5.
Two days later, the Central Valley High School senior wrestler placed third in the 122-pound division at Regionals.
Cordova, 30-10 this year, advanced to the CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships.
"It's the best feeling ever," Lexy said. "I walked off the mat crying when I qualified. I've worked so hard for it."
Cordova won five of six matches at Regionals, staged on Feb. 7 at Stockton's McNair High School.
"Honestly, I shouldn't be going to state," Cordova said. "I should have lost my first match the second day. I was losing 5-0. The last 30 seconds I won by pin. It was a do or die moment. I had to win. I didn't want to be in the room for four years and not have anything to show for it. Getting to state has been my goal since my freshman year. I've been close a couple times."
Cordova follows in the footsteps of former Hawk grapplers Malynda Lomeli and Rose Moore.
Lomeli and Moore punched their tickets to state in 2013 and 2012, respectively.
Malynda helped coach Lexy this season.
Cordova and Lomeli teamed up in both wrestling and softball at Central Valley for three seasons.
They played volleyball together with the Hawks for one year.
"I'm proud of her," Lomeli said.
Added Cordova: "I'm the third generation to go to state."
Cordova joined Central Valley's wrestling team as a freshman, along with cousin Adrian Vizcaino.
Lexy's older brother Tony, a 2011 Central Valley grad, also wrestled. "Being the only girl on the team this year didn't bother me," said Cordova, who competed at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High for two seasons. "I've wrestled with most of the guys since seventh grade. They treat me like an equal. I proved myself. I never thought I was good enough. As a freshman, I wasn't very good. Junior year, I realized I was capable of making it to state."
The Fourth Annual CIF Girls State Wrestling Championships will be held, Feb. 28-March 1, at the Visalia Convention Center.
"I made a list of goals," Lexy said. "I want to finish in the top six at state. I have a great shot at it if I wrestle aggressively. It would be a great honor to be able to bring back a medal to Central Valley."