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Wrestling champion from Tucson impresses at Olympic trials



The recent Sunnyside High School graduate made it to the women’s 50kg freestyle finals in April.

PHOENIX — Tucson’s Audrey Jimenez made Arizona sports history and national headlines earlier this year becoming the first girl to win an AIA state championship in the boys’ wrestling competition. The recent Sunnyside High School graduate and Lehigh University commit has been the number one pound-for-pound wrestler in the country and now she’s an alternate for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Wrestling team.

In April, Jimenez was the only high schooler to compete at the Olympic Trials at Penn State. The teen made it to the 50kg freestyle finals but lost to Olympic bronze medalist and 4x Senior World medalist Sarah Hildebrandt.

Jimenez discussed her historic state title win, her Olympic dreams, and her future in wrestling with 12News journalist Lina Washington in March. Here is a portion of their conversation, edited and updated for clarity:

Lina Washington: You’re no stranger to being a champion and having your arm raised, but to do it against the boys? How incredible is that for you to be a part of Arizona state history in that way?

Audrey Jimenez: I think it’s amazing, I know it’s a great accomplishment. Being able to make that history – it’s awesome. It didn’t really hit me until the very end of the match when the ref raise my hand and you could just hear everybody cheering. Just walking off the mat, I got that rush. It was awesome.

LW: I want you to flex on your accomplishments for a little bit for me.

AJ: I’m a three-time state champion in girls [wrestling competition], one time in boys. I’m a six-time national champion. I believe I’m a four-time Pan-Am World Team member. I have three silver medals at Worlds and one bronze medal.

LW: Tell me about the community of Sunnyside because I saw that they had a watch party for your world competition, that’s pretty awesome!

AJ: Sunnyside is the best place. The wrestling team, the program has been so good for so long. This community is really amazing, and I feel like I wouldn’t have the goals I have without them believing in me as much as they do.

LW: What do you want to do with wrestling after college? Have you thought that far at all – what this looks like beyond the Olympics or high school or college athletics?

AJ: I do want to get as many world championships and Olympics as I can. As long as my body’s healthy I’ll continue to wrestle even outside of college. I would say I’ve always been athletic. I started playing soccer when I was four years old and even when I played softball up until I was 11, I had a goal to be an Olympic champion. Jennie Finch was my idol. Now in wrestling, I have the same goal: to win the Olympics.

LW: What’s your message to any other girls currently in wrestling or wanting to get into wrestling?

AJ: To all of the girls in wrestling in general, I would say just make sure you’re having fun and make sure you’re doing what you want. Also, be open to the advice of others and just work your hardest and keeping things simple.

Follow the conversation with Lina Washington on X/Twitter: @LWashingtonTV. If you have a sports story idea, email Lina at LWashington@12News.com.

Arizona sports 

The city of Phoenix is home to four major professional sports league teams; The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, NBA’s Phoenix Suns, WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Cardinals have made State Farm Stadium in Glendale their home turf and the Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix is home to both the Suns and the Mercury. The Indoor Football League’s Arizona Rattlers play at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale. 

Phoenix also has a soccer team with the USL’s Phoenix Rising FC, who play at Phoenix Rising FC Stadium in Phoenix. 

The Valley hosts multiple major sporting events on a yearly basis, including college football’s Fiesta Bowl and Guaranteed Rate Bowl; the PGA Tour’s highest-attended event, the WM Phoenix Open; NASCAR events each spring and fall, including Championship Weekend in November; and Cactus League Spring Training for 15 Major League Baseball franchises. 

Sports

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