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Pata shines on the mat
Julia Pata

Julia Pata established herself as Ceres High's all-time greatest female wrestler this winter.

A newcomer to the sport, Pata advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships and finished first at the Western Athletic Conference finals while competing in the 162-pound division.

Julia compiled a 23-8 overall record and won four of five matches during the WAC dual season.

"She is the best female wrestler we've had," Bulldogs coach Steve Festa said. "She set the bar high for future wrestlers. For being new to the sport, she went so far. She had a great season. She worked hard to get better. She gave it her all."

"It's pretty cool for him (Festa) to think that highly of me," Pata said. "I give a lot of credit to my coaches. They really helped me out and reminded me it's my first year and to keep my head up. They were constantly supporting me."

Slowed by a shoulder injury, Pata dropped two of three matches at the Masters meet on Feb. 17 at McNair High School in Stockton.

"Overall, I'm disappointed with how my season ended," Pata said. "I feel I should have competed better. I wasn't executing properly and performing at the level I should have. My nerves got to me."

Pata placed sixth at the South Regional competition on Feb. 4 in Modesto.

Julia took first at the WAC Championships on Jan. 27 in Livingston.

Pata had an unblemished mark as she registered five pins en route to taking first at the Eighth Annual Lady Eagles Invitational on Jan. 21 at Enochs High School.

Julia earned her ninth varsity letter this winter when she wrestled for the Bulldogs for the first time.

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

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

"Being part of the wrestling team has been one of the better experiences I've had in high school," Pata said. "I had a great time. Everybody was positive. The most challenging part was getting used to not being the best at something. I achieved one of my goals for the season. I became WAC champ in my weight class. I didn't achieve my second goal, which was to make it to state."