Aztec High School's Makayla Munoz has sights set on third straight state wrestling title
- Aztec Tiger wrestling coach believes Munoz is a pioneer of the sport of girls wrestling
AZTEC — What do you do when you've won the championship of your particular sport, not just once, but twice in a row?
If you're asking Makayla Munoz from Aztec High School, the answer is simply to win a few more championships.
Munoz, a highly decorated member of the Tigers wrestling team, is on pace for some record-shattering moments on the mat, not just as she continues in her junior year, but hopefully well beyond.
"I've absolutely loved the time I've spent with this team," Munoz said. "We constantly strive to be better each and every time we hit the mat. I'm so excited to be a part of this family."
Earlier this week, Munoz was named wrestler of the week by coaches and staff of NewMexicoWrestling.com.
She continued her dominance on the mat this past weekend, winning her 126-lb. weight class at the 4th annual Lady Tigers Scramble at Aztec High School, defeating Abriana Montoya of Carlsbad High School.
Munoz, a two-time defending state champion, is on track this season to win her third state title. Munoz was recently crowned tournament champion at the 57th Annual Doc Wright Invite.
Impressively riding a 56-match winning streak this season, Munoz suffered her first high school loss to an out-of-state wrestler earlier this year.
"I think that loss was good for her," Stinson said. "I've never seen anyone that can't grow from a loss now and then and I definitely saw a growth from her after that."
Munoz is still undefeated in New Mexico extending her overall record to 68-1 as the state championships loom in the not so distant future.
"Best thing is, being only a junior, we're hoping for two more state titles before she's finished here," Stinson said.
And beyond that, Munoz indicated, she's anxious to hit the mat again at the next level.
"I've been very blessed to have the opportunities here and to have learned from coach Stinson," Munoz said. "I really do believe I want to take this to the college level and continue to be at my best."
Munoz will definitely have her fair share of competition in the future, as the sport of women's wrestling continues to advance from high schools and colleges across the country.
"I hope I'm able to always live up to the expectations my coaches have for me and that I have for myself," Munoz said this week.
Munoz has made the most of the opportunities given to her by Stinson and the coaches within the Aztec wrestling program. The high school team was created in 1956 and has taken home more than 120 individual state championships.
The girls team, which got its start in 2018, has already won four individual championships, with Munoz as well as current teammate Princess Altisis as well as Bella Wells, who won the inaugural girls state championship in 2018, and Mia Aguirre, who took home a blue trophy in 2020.
According to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, the sport has been the one of the fastest growing sports for girls in high school for a number of years.
In 1990, there were 112 girls who participated in high school wrestling across the country, primarily on the east coast and upper Midwest.
Today, there are 32 states with sanctioned girls high school wrestling programs and more than 21,000 wrestlers in competition.
Thanks to the rise in popularity of combat sports, predominantly the Ultimate Fighting Championships and the introduction of women to Olympic wrestling in 2004, girls high school wrestling has been a sport on the rise.
In 2019, New Mexico became the 18th state to sanction girls wrestling as a sport, according to the New Mexico Activities Association.
"Girls continue to take up the challenge,” said Joan Fulp, co-chair of the USA Wrestling Girls High School Development Committee. “One by one they see the inspiration and character building traits once only enjoyed by boys and men. They want to drink from the same fountain.”
To that end, Stinson believes Munoz, who has been a part of the team since she was an eighth grader in 2018, is going to be a pioneer of the sport.
"She's going to be a leader and example for many future wrestlers, not just here but wherever she goes down the road," Stinson said.
As for how she sees her future, Munoz, a 4.0 student, is determined to keep aspirations and expectations high on herself.
"I really hope to wrestle at the collegiate level," Munoz said. "I want to study psychology and I hope I can do everything to get there."
Munoz and the Tigers girls wrestling team are currently ranked third in the state behind only Miyamura and Atrisco Heritage heading into the final month of the season. The Tigers boys team is at the top of the rankings in Class 4A across the state as they pursue their fifth straight team championship.
The run to the state title takes another big step next weekend at the Butch Melton Invitational at Ignacio, Colorado. After that, Aztec will take part in District 1-4A duals on Saturday, Feb. 5 with the state finals set for Feb. 18 at the Rio Rancho Star Center.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680.