Former Rancho Cotate wrestler Kayla Aggio not satisfied with All-American status

In this 2011 file photo, Rancho Cotate wrestler Kayla Aggio shows off her CIF state championship belt and  US Nationals medal. Credit: Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

In this 2011 file photo, Rancho Cotate wrestler Kayla Aggio shows off her CIF state championship belt and US Nationals medal.
Credit: Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Even though former Rancho Cotate wrestler Kayla Aggio competed in a college championship match last weekend in St. Louis and earned All-American status for the third time, she still wasn’t satisfied.

“I’m really disappointed,” the junior 143-pounder said by phone from Oklahoma City University, where she has wrestled since graduating from Rancho Cotate in 2012.

The second-ranked Aggio was pinned in 1:07 in the final match by Beaumont product Amanda Hendey of King University in Tennessee.

“I trained really hard but I just kind of didn’t perform where I needed to,” she said. “I got into a scramble and it didn’t go well.”

Hendey swept through her bracket, pinning all five opponents, to take first at the Women’s College Wrestling Association Championships.

Aggio knocked her OCU teammate Heiley Garcia into the consolation round with a 10-0 technical-fall win in the quarterfinals, then pinned Adrena Ng of Jamestown before beating seventh-ranked Alyssa Wong of Simon Fraser in British Columbia to make the final match.

“I’m blessed to even be able to wrestle,” Aggio said.

King University took top team honors, besting Aggio’s OCU.

Her individual performance earned a third straight All-American honor and qualified her for June’s World Team Trials, a precursor to Olympic qualifiers.

While the Olympics are still a vague dream, Aggio said she primarily wants to be a national champion.

Aggio was a two-time All- Empire girls wrestler of the year at Rancho Cotate and went 14-1 as a senior, placing second at 146 pounds in the CIF state tournament. She placed third at state at 136 pounds as a junior and was 132-pound NorCal champ as a sophomore.

“I know what I need to work on,” she said. “This wasn’t the best tournament. I didn’t perform optimally.

“You can get caught in wrestling, which is one of the beautiful things about it, but also one of the saddest things. It gives everyone hope.”

The memory of her father still looms large in Aggio’s mental training.

David Aggio, 54, was killed in a car crash in Bakersfield in March 2014. The other driver, a 23-year-old man who ran a red light and crossed a divider into Aggio’s path, is facing second-degree murder, manslaughter and impaired-driving charges.

Aggio has said her father taught her how to have faith and to fight through difficulties.

“If I have more heart, continue wrestling and keep going, I’ll do well,” she said. “Basically, it’s whoever gives up first. There are people that catch you, like I got caught, but it’s really about heart.

“You can train all you want, but if you don’t have the heart for it, you’re not going to do very well.”

Aggio will test that next month at the Girls Folkstyle National Championships and Women’s University National Championships in Oklahoma City, then at the Las Vegas Open in May, before the World Team Trials the following month.

You can reach Lori A. Carter at 521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.