Federal Way wrestlers reflect on accomplishments, get ready for state

Federal Way High School junior Andrzej Hughes-Murray was inspired to try wrestling after watching WWE when he was younger.

Federal Way High School junior Andrzej Hughes-Murray was inspired to try wrestling after watching WWE when he was younger.

“I wanted to be like those guys,” he said. “I thought it looked so cool. I discovered when I first started wrestling that it wasn’t like it was on television, that stuff was all for show and real wrestling takes real work.”

Now, Hughes-Murray is leading the Federal Way High School guys wrestling team.

“I started wrestling in sixth grade at Sacajawea Middle School and had two great coaches there that pushed me to be my best,” he said. “Then I came here and Mango is a great coach too that helps me reach my goals.”

Coach Travis Mango said the Federal Way girls and boys wrestling has had a good season this year. The girls came in first place at the South Puget Sound League tournament with 150 points.

“It’s difficult for me to identify only one wrestler who is standing out this season as the girls work really well as a team,” Mango said. “Everything they have accomplished they do together. They truly embody the family motto and atmosphere that we have created here.”

Hughes-Murray said it’s his team that pushes him to work harder and show up to rigorous practices every day, consisting of running, conditioning and weight lifting.

“I love being around my teammates,” he said. “We hang out all the time even outside of practices and are always there for each other like a real family.”

Hughes-Murray is also is a running back and linebacker on the football team. He said wrestling has made him improve in football.

“I was always a lot stronger than most kids and felt like there must be a reason for it, I wanted to find something that fit,” he said. “Wrestling gave me that purpose and wrestling has improved my work ethic over the past few years. I am determined to strive for greatness and be the best I can be.”

Fernanda Carmona, junior, also said wrestling has made her a better athlete in her other sports.

“This sport taught me a lot of discipline and it’s made me mentally and physically stronger,” she said. “This has helped me excel in other sports I’ve done as well.”

Carmona started wrestling her sophomore year in high school.

“I considered wrestling my freshmen year, but heard the workouts were really intense and it freaked me out,” she said. “But my mom encouraged me to try and go for it.”

Carmona had been playing volleyball for a few years.

“I liked volleyball, but didn’t love it and it wasn’t my sport,” she said. “Wrestling is my sport and I realized that right away.”

Carmona’s biggest accomplishment in wrestling was making it to state last year.

“I hope to go back this year and dominate,” she said.

Ana Sanchez, junior, cited her biggest accomplishment was becoming team captain this year.

“Taking on the role as captain this year has been great,” she said. “Not only do I get to set goals and accomplish them myself, but I get to help other girls meet theirs and grow together as a team.”

Sanchez has been wrestling since she was in eighth grade.

“What I like most about this sport is being able to see the progress not only in my wrestling but as a student, athlete and a person,” she said. “Wrestling makes me physically, mentally and emotionally stronger.”

Tally Thomas, sophomore, agreed, saying wrestling has pushed her past all her limits.

“There’s never a moment where you are done, you are the best,” she said. “There are always things to work on and new goals to set.”

Thomas and Carmona are both at the top of the girls team, with Sanchez coming in second.

“We have all been working so hard this year,” Thomas said. “This sport takes a lot of dedication and hard work so when you accomplish them, it feels great. It’s fun to see us all grow together as a team.”

State is Feb. 20 and 21 at the Tacoma Dome.