SELMA, Calif. (KFSN) --On a national level, girls wrestling is still considered a growing sport. But one small community in the Valley has already incorporated the sport into its program. And in just six years the Bears are putting Selma on the map.
The road to a state championship is paved with sweat and dedication. Each member of the Lady Bears has done her part to become the first girls team from the Valley to make it that far.
"If you get a pin it's like, I conquered this person," said Gracie Figueroa.
Figueroa played a pivotal role in leading the team to the title in February and has the stats to prove it.
"I have 33 pins out of my 34 matches I've wrestled."
No easy feat, especially for a girl who picked up the sport just five years ago.
Other members of the team who have wrestled longer got a different start. Before Selma began its girl's program in 201 those who wanted to wrestle had to compete with and against the boys.
"The boys made me go harder because they have a different style of wrestling and they're stronger. So they made me stronger," said Mariah Morale, freshman.
Morales has 11 years under her belt and has enjoyed seeing the sport transform through the years.
"I love the team bonding and just having a whole girls team. I used to be the only girl on the team."
Selma's girls' roster has more than doubled to 26 wrestlers in the past year. And nationally more than 11,000 girls are on wrestling teams. Twenty years ago, that number was only 8,000.
"The girls program just exploded in our town and people are taking notice. It was really quick," said Andy Munoz, coach.
Munoz took over the program one year after it began, and is inspired by the motivation each girl brings to the team.
"They come out hard working, just as much as boys-- so when the season starts, win or lose, all I ask is to do your best. It's not easy to be in this sport. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it."
Part of the girls' success comes from practicing with the boys. Each day-- even in the off season-- both teams mix it up on the mat.
"I just love the support the coaches give, the families, it's one big family-- the Selma wrestling program," said Figueroa.
It's an enormous sense of pride that fuels this determined group of girls from the small Fresno County community. Each of them hoping to build on the momentum they've started.
"It's come so far because we encourage other people. Girls like to see us wrestling. Like, if they can do it, we can do it," said Morale.