Shadow Ridge’s Borunda wins historic wrestling title

Shadow Ridge junior Lexi Borunda holds up the medal she received for winning the 101-pound class at the inaugural state girls wrestling championships on Feb. 8. [Courtesy of Dysart Unified School District]

Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

Forgive Shadow Ridge junior Lexi Borunda if being the first official state high school girls wrestling champion in Arizona is not of a big deal for her as it is for everyone else.

She’s a veteran compared to most of the other girls in the bracket. Lexi was the only girl on the Stallions boys team this season — just like she was the first two years at the campus in southwest Surprise.

The main difference is, this year she wrestled more girls and she was dominant. Borunda entered state Feb. 8 in Prescott Valley with a 14-0 record, and won by one pinfall and two 10-0 decisions.

“It was pretty cool,” Lexi Borunda said. “Most of the girls I wrestled at state were pretty new.”

As Shadow Ridge wrestling coach Theron Frazier was quick to point out, Borunda would rather face the challenge of wrestling boys.

“Lexi does not like wrestling girls. She prefers to wrestle boys because the style of wrestling is different. We started her out wrestling boys but as we got closer to the end of season we focused on just the girls to prepare her for state. This is the first year we have done that,” Frazier stated in an email.

Her path to the sport began age age 12 with jiu jitsu.

Her dad, Steve, went to Knockout Fitness to box when Lexi was 12. She started to try jiu jitsu and eventually made the transition to wrestling.

“She wanted to do gymnastics and I realized that was eight days a week. At that point I didn’t think we could make that work so I said, “How about we give jiu jitsu a shot,” Steve Borunda. “I gave her two weeks to see if she liked it and we were off and running.”

Wrestling became a natural transition.

“My jiujitsu coaches were wrestling coaches and had wrestled in high school. And I wasn’t going to do it but my friend, Destiny, who also does jiu jitsu, started wrestling,” Lexi Borunda said.

The transition goes the other way as well. She has trained at Glendale-based Grindhouse Wrestling for about 18 months.

Lexi said she found the wrestling lessons fun and he didn’t like losing so she kept getting lessons.

“At first I started doing illegal things in wrestling. (Coach) LC (Cain) kind of fixed that and had me focus on being aggressive and getting stuff right. I stopped doing jiu jitsu,” she said.

In addition to her foundation in the sport, Grindhouse was where Lexi began wrestling boys.

“They’ve made a big difference in her wrestling,” Steve Borunda said. “She definitely has great coaching at Shadow Ridge. But when we started at Grindhouse, a parent told me, ‘If you take your girls there, don’t be alarmed because it’s going to be rough.’ We took her one time and she didn’t say very much about it. Months later she wanted to go back.”

Even in this first season of official girls wrestling, Borunda said she often was matched up with boys — as several girls team did not have another young woman in a similar weight class.

That may cause a disconnect with her achievement as the first girls champion.

“It is a big deal for the school to receive this recognition. I do not believe the significance of the win has really sunk in for Lexi,” Frazier stated.

Ironwood freshman Emily Porras had earned the top seed but needed an appendectomy shortly before state and did not compete.

It may not have battered. Poras was No. 1 with three times the matches as Borunda.

But a closer inspection proved she was the favorite in any case.

“There was not one point scored on her all season,” Steve Borunda said.

Her father said he was impressed with how the state meet was run.

“I think state went perfectly. I’m appreciative of everything they’ve done and I could not believe the size of it and how smoothly it ran,” Steve Bornuda said.

Now, its time to take her talents around the country in the summer, with the ultimate goal being nationals.

“She wants to do the Dakota tournament. That would be our first experience outside the state of Arizona,” Steve Borunda said. “LC travels this whole country and he’s seen the competition. He’ll be able to see if she’s ready.”

She said she is ready for the next challenge and would like to wrestle in college.

And she will have an opportunity to lead younger wrestlers inspired by her championship.

“There’s supposed to be a lot of freshmen on the girls team next year. It’s something different for them to try,” Lexi said. “It’s different because everything is on you.”

Shadow Ridge junior Lexi Borunda holds up the medal she received for winning the 101-pound class at the inaugural state girls wrestling championships on Feb. 8. [Courtesy of Dysart Unified School District]

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