COMMERCE CITY – Adams City’s Phoebe Gutierrez had quite the first season in girls wrestling this winter. She won a regional title. She finished second in the state tournament at 100 pounds and earned second-team, all-state recognition from the Colorado High School Activities Association and MaxPreps.
There’s more: Gutierrez also earned a spot in the U.S. Open in Las Vegas later this month.
"Going to the U.S. Open is a big deal for me because I have the opportunity to represent my community and I will get to wrestle with my older brother, Fabian Gutierrez (former state champion for the Eagles and a two-time qualifier in the NCAA Division II national tournament), who will be competing as well," she said in a statement.
Also, that’s “not to mention the experience I will gain to help me become a better wrestler."
Gutierrez almost didn’t make it. Her division in the U.S. Open included a prequalification, or certain registration criteria, such as being a state title-winner or placing in certain national or preseason events.
“I wanted to wrestle in it, but when we looked, I didn’t meet the criteria,” she said. “A few days later, my coaches rechecked the qualifications, and USA Wrestling had added state placers, which meant I could wrestle because I placed second at state.”
The Gutierrez family has a long history in wrestling. Her father, David, competed for Adams City. So did her two brothers, the aforementioned Fabian, and Maximus.
“I have been around it all my life,” Gutierrez said. “I tried wrestling a few times when I was younger, but I always quit. I did gymnastics and volleyball instead while my brothers wrestled. When I was in fourth grade, I decided to try it again. That must have been the right time because I haven’t stopped since.”
Now, she will be the first female wrestler to be honored with a picture on the Adams City Wrestling Hall of Fame. It’s reserved for those who place in the top six at state. It’s a first for her, but also part of the family tradition. Fabian and Maximus are also on the wall, along with her dad.
Gutierrez also was the first female wrestler at Adams City to win a regional title, to qualify for the state meet, and to place at a state meet.
“My season was good. I took first or second most of the season, except I went 2-2 at the Northern Colorado Christmas Classic and did not place. That was rough,” Gutierrez said. “I had great coaches as well. I grew up watching them wrestle, and now they coach me.”
Gutierrez said she is not surprised at the popularity of her sport.
“I know girls have always wanted to wrestle. So, when it was sanctioned, I knew it was gonna get big, and I am grateful that there were girls willing to pave the way so I can have these opportunities,” she said.
She’s looking at colleges in the hopes of continuing her wrestling career. One place she has in mind is Arizona State University, an NCAA Division I program. It doesn’t have a women’s wrestling program yet, but Gutierrez is hoping there will be one by the time she finishes high school. It wouldn’t be the first time she would make history.
“If not, I am thinking about going to King University or maybe Iowa,” she said. “I know wrestling is gonna be my main focus in college. But I’m a student-athlete, so I’d like to major in physics and get a doctorate.”
Gutierrez is trying to raise some money for travel- and tournament-related expenses. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-phoebe-get-to-the-us-open?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=unknown&utm_campaign=comms_s8xd+help-phoebe-get-to-the-us-open.
“My main goal is to do my best, no matter the outcome,” she said. “This tournament can give me an idea of where I’m at and help me to improve myself. I’m just going to enjoy the process.”