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Female college wrestler from Pocatello makes national team

By Kendra Evensen kevensen@journalnet.com

May 8, 2017

Koral Sugiyama once told her former USA Wrestling coach Billy Wood that he should set her goals for her because she always achieves what he encourages her to do.

There may be something to that. After all, Wood told her to shoot for the Senior National Team, and that’s just what she did.

Sugiyama, a 2015 Pocatello High School graduate and current Campbellsville University sophomore, recently earned a spot on the U.S. Senior Women’s Freestyle National Team after coming in third at the Senior World Team Trials in Las Vegas. She and her fellow teammate, Kayla Miracle, who came in second, are the first Campbellsville wrestlers — male or female — to achieve the status, according to campbellsvilletigers.com.

Sugiyama attributes her success to great coaches and a good support system, including teammates, family and friends.

She says she struggles to believe in her own potential, but others, like her coaches, do and they help to keep her motivated.

“It’s a real big mental game for me,” she said.

Wood said he’s really proud, but not surprised, by Sugiyama’s accomplishments.

“I always told Koral that it was a process, that she had to believe in that,” he said, adding that she’s had to learn step-by-step as she’s moved toward her future goals.

Wood, who is also a Pocatello High School alumni, says Sugiyama’s talent doesn’t come naturally. But she has achieved her skills in the tough sport through effort.

“She excels (through) hard work and determination. She has a never-give-up attitude,” Wood said. “She always asks great questions and is always willing to put in the hard work.”

Sugiyama says she practices for two hours in the morning and tries to do cardio or strength training in the afternoons. She squeezes in a third workout whenever she can.

And when she’s not wrestling or working out, she’s often studying. Sugiyama is pursuing a double major in film, which she has always enjoyed, and psychology. She says she hopes to specialize in sports psychology and help other athletes once her own sports career is done.

“I just want to give back to the sport,” she said.

Sugiyama, who has been wrestling since eighth grade, said she enjoys the individualism of the sport.

“(I like) seeing how far I can push myself,” she said, adding that she appreciates the supportive wrestling community as well. “(We) push each other to get better.”

Wood said women’s wrestling is still an emerging sport, and he thinks Sugiyama’s successes may help inspire other girls to get involved.

“Hopefully it helps to push Idaho female wrestling one step forward,” he said.

Sugiyama encourages other girls who are interested in wrestling to focus on what they love about the sport when times get tough.

“It’s really grueling sometimes,” she said. “What is making you interested helps you push through.”

Access: http://idahostatejournal.com/news/local/female-college-wrestler-from-pocatello-makes-national-team/article_8b067897-c3b2-5e8c-9e30-167279456e96.html