MUSCATINE, Iowa–Muscatine High School senior Virginia Cacho discovered wrestling during a difficult time. “I arrived in the United States from Honduras at age 13 and I felt alone,” she recalled: “Many young people around me were doing drugs or drinking, and I did not know where I was going or how to get rid of those feelings of anger and frustration. I did know one thing, that I did not want to be part of that circle of people making bad choices.
In the winter of her freshman year of high school, Virginia heard about wrestling for the first time, and though unfamiliar with the sport felt drawn to it: “When I first entered the wrestling room, I had a feeling that I still cannot explain. I did not understand the sport of wrestling, I did not know anything about wrestling, but it was the first time in my life that I really felt a passion for doing, understanding, and practicing a sport.”
That year, Virginia left the girls basketball team to help manage the wrestling team. Though she could not join immediately, she attended every practice and attended open mat workouts the following fall to prepare for the 2018-2019 season.
Virginia quickly discovered she had a knack for wrestling and got great enjoyment from learning the sport and spending time with her teammates. She shared, “I enjoy everything about the sport of wrestling–the support that the team gives me and everyone, the competition, the learning of skills and tactics, and the fun.”
As Virginia continued to train, she quickly made progress. In her junior year, she attended the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Girls State Tournament for the first time and placed eighth overall in her weight class.
Hungry for more, she fought her way into the tournament a second time her senior year. In tournament competition, she went 3-1, loosing only to Morgan Smith of Denver High School in the semifinals. Denver went on to place as the state champion. After continuing in the semifinals and moving on to a placing match, Virginia earned third place in her weight class, surpassing her 2019 performance by leaps and bounds.
After graduating this spring, Virginia plans to continue wrestling in college. “I want to be a collegiate national champion, not just a high school state placer, because I can always learn something new in wrestling and as my coach told me once, ‘even big wrestlers were beginners once,'” she stated with pride.
Already, Virginia has made an impressive mark on the girls wrestling scene, and her coaches know she will stand as an example for others for years to come. “It’s a historic time for girls high school wrestling in Iowa, and Virginia is leaving a legacy that will inspire others,” said Muscatine High School Head Wrestling Coach Joseph Kane.
“Virginia has been a role model for our lady wrestlers and hopefully an inspiration for peers and future athletes,” added Girls Wrestling Coach Dani Wolfe. “She has shown the other wrestlers that this is a tough sport, and girls can be competitors.”