Guerrero Goes for Gold

Royson Folas, managing editor

It’s the biggest moment of your life. Every second of training for the last 14 years has all led up to this one occasion. There are thousands of eyes on you. For many, it is impossible to live up to the expectation. But not for this young lady. The spotlight is on her. It’s showtime.

Sandra “Sandy” Guerrero has spent nearly her entire life in West Orange and for as long as she can remember, she’s been a fighter. Her parents own a martial arts studio in Caldwell, NJ called the Guerrero Martial Arts Academy where they teach people of all ages self-defense strategies to build confidence and become physically fit. At the tender age of four, Sandy grew a passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and soon after she began wrestling to better her Jiu-Jitsu skills. What started off as a means of practice, quickly turned into an obsession, and soon enough Sandy fell in love with the sport. 

Throughout her life, Sandy has always been driven to be the best. In addition to her gifted technical ability, it is her determination and drive that has allowed her to rise to the top. During her high school career, her talent has never been doubted, but it was the sporadic, devastating injuries that held her back. She has faced a whopping four injuries in her right knee in the past few years, causing her to miss out on the opportunity of competing at the national level for the past two years. But after getting surgery in the summer of 2019 and going on a vegan diet, Sandy was able to stay injury-free for the duration of the past season and it has allowed her to take her career to new heights. 

Sandy says, “My biggest opponent this year was myself, both physically and mentally. There were times in practice where I thought I tweaked my knee and I would just start crying out of fear that my dream would be taken away from me again.”

In the end, it was this passion that allowed Sandy to have such a historic season. 21 games. 21 pins. All in the 1st or 2nd period. Only 6 points conceded the entire season. Incredible. Her terrific record earned her a place at states where she would truly cement herself in Mountaineer history.

March 7, 2020. Today was the day. The state final match at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. There are thousands of screaming fans anticipating the big event but in a small nearby room rests a future champion. Before the fight, Sandy’s mother described her as the most nervous she had ever seen her. But Sandy calms herself by reciting her pre match ritual:

“I’m confident in my training. I believe in myself and I can do anything.”

Soon after, her nerves turn to hunger and desire to win. Despite her opponent being Joelle Klien, a football player from Cape May with a towering height advantage and an identical unbeaten record, Sandy knows if she uses all of her training to her full extent, victory will be certain. The spotlight is on her. The announcer calls her name. It’s showtime.

 Sandy asserts her dominance from early on in the match but Klien did just enough to keep the match in reach until the 3rd period, but not enough to get the win. Sandy ended up winning the match 7-0 and became the first West Orange High School student to become a wrestling state champion and the first wrestler since CJ Morgan to win their final wrestling match. 

https://youtu.be/RMUX6RLFqxs: NJ Girls Wrestling State Final

Sandy labels this event as the best experience in her life. But the road to success was no easy journey. Tens of hours of intense practice each week with a strict diet while juggling her academic career and duties in the AFJROTC program. But with the aid of her parents, coaches, and partner-in-crime, Precious Opara, Sandy was able to prevail. 

Sandy will continue to make history at New Jersey City University by partaking in their first-ever women’s wrestling team.