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Unbeaten: Mountain View’s Isla Baeza honored as 2024 Utah Valley Girls Wrestler of the Year

By Brian E. Preece - Herald Correspondent | Apr 3, 2024

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

Mountain View wrestler Isla Baeza (left) battles Provo's Ella Reynolds during the 2024 state girls wrestling finals at the UCCU Center in Orem on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.

Girls wrestling is in a great place in Utah and Utah County in particular. As the sport accelerates in numbers of competitors and quality competition, many Utah valley wrestlers stand out as exceptional.

One of those is nationally ranked Isla Baeza of Mountain View, who went undefeated in the 2023-24 season and won her second state title. For her accomplishments, the Daily Herald named her the 2024 Utah Valley Girls Wrestler of the Year.

Baeza’s biggest win wasn’t necessarily the state tournament but when she pinned Westlake’s Celeste Detoles at the Bruin All-Girls Invite in late January. It was the only defeat Detoles suffered in her 2023-24 season, which resulted in her fourth state 6A title and a national ranking at a weight class above Baeza.

The win over Detoles gave Baeza a new perspective.

“I knew even if I was nationally ranked I could be beaten,” Baeza said. “But the win definitely gave me even more confidence. It made me believe in myself that I could compete at a higher level.”

Marcia Harris, Special to the Herald

Mountain View's Isla Baeza celebrates winning the 130-pound championship match at the 2023 5A state girls wrestling finals at the UCCU Center in Orem of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.

It should be noted that there are some amazing female prep wrestlers in Utah County.

Detoles’s teammate Keilikki Nau Rarick, a junior, finished undefeated in her junior campaign, while Maple Mountain senior Aurelia Ramos also finished undefeated winning her second state title. All four of these wrestlers are nationally ranked for good reason.

“This is actually really cool (being named as the top prep girl wrestler for Utah County),” said Baeza. “The girls are more naturally athletic and competitive (then when I first started wrestling). Wins are more significant. Everybody is putting in the work.”

Like many female wrestlers, Baeza came to the sport in a unique way. And for her it was through a contest held in a P.E. class her freshman year.

“I won a sumo wrestling tournament and after that I thought, ‘I’m going to give (folkstyle) wrestling a try,'” Baeza said.

Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald

Mountain View wrestler Isla Baeza (right) battles Provo's Ella Reynolds during the 2024 state girls wrestling finals at the UCCU Center in Orem on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024.

Success didn’t come right away for Baeza and she wasn’t sure she liked the sport. But she still finished fourth in the 1A-3A/5A state meet in her first season.

“My first year I didn’t love it,” Baeza said. “But I decided to give it another year. Then in my second year I won second in state and I thought I had to keep going.”

And keep going she did.

She won two state titles and went undefeated in 2023-24 with a 34-0 record. But it’s the intangible benefits wrestling gave her that Baeza finds significant.

“When I started seeing results, my confidence (as a person) grew,” said Baeza. “I started doing better in school, wanting to take more difficult classes. I became more social and more positive.”

Springville wrestler Izzy Clements (left) battles Mountain View's Isla Baeza during the 5A state girls wrestling finals at the UCCU Center in Orem on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Jared Lloyd, Daily Herald)

Baeza’s coach Maren Stafford echoes this sentiment.

“She carries herself differently now,” Stafford said. “She has confidence, not arrogance. She never got caught up in ‘looking like a wrestler’ like so many kids do. She just put in the work and had confidence in her preparation. And if she is unsatisfied with the results, she sets new goals and starts working towards those. It really is impressive to watch her grow into herself.”

There were some other things Stafford said Baeza did to improve as a wrestler and athlete.

“She came in as a freshman and had a lot of grit but her cardio didn’t allow her to be as successful as she would have liked to be,” said Stafford. “We often teased her that her lips would turn blue while she wrestled. So she’d keep fighting until there was no gas left in the tank to fight with.

“Her sophomore year she returned after summer and had been putting in the work on her own to improve her cardio. It was really impressive to see the desire she had to be a standout competitor. She worked so hard throughout the season and despite some hard times that her family was experiencing, she was runner-up her sophomore year. She then set some goals and put in more work in the off-season to prepare herself.”

Though Mountain View has a solid girls program, finding female teammates to work out with and push her was difficult at times.

Baeza took things into her own hands. Mountain View has athletic classes and she joined both the boys and girls wrestling classes so she could get extra workouts.

“My freshman and sophomore years, our program was small and I was just learning,” said Baeza. “But in my junior and senior years it was just hard to find (girl) teammates that I could work out with, so wrestling with the boys really helped.”

Baeza isn’t sure what is next but she does plan on wrestling at the next level.

In high school competitions, girls wrestle folkstyle but in college it’s freestyle, also the style used in the Olympics. Baeza will compete in the U.S. Open this month in freestyle and hope to get on a school’s radar.

Right now, the Beehive State only has one women’s college wrestling program and that is Snow College which competes at the junior college level. But it seems assured that Baeza will be taking her talents to the next level.

Isla Baeza Profile

School: Mountain View

Weight Class: 130 pounds

Ranking: No. 25 by USA Wrestling

2023-24 Record: 34-0

Career Record: 86-16

2-time State Champion

3-time State Finalist

4-time State Placer

Represented the 3A/4A team at the 2023 and 2024 Ross Brunson All-Star Duals

2023 Christmas Clash Winner


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