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WHO’S NEXT? USAW STAR OF THE FUTURE Hendey makes her mark

By Jessica Cullen At the ripe old age of 17, Amanda Hendey is turning heads. She’s catching the eye of many people

in the wrestling world. Mostly because she’s that good, but also she’s young and up against seasoned competition. While her competition is stiff, it doesn’t

break her. In fact, she rises above and beyond what she anticipates. “She has nothing to lose,” said her club

coach, Trevor Keifer. “She goes at a level higher than she’s expected [to go].” But being considered the young under-

dog is a new title to hold for Hendey. She said she is old for her grade, so being the young one is different. Even if it is a change, her successes speak for them- selves. She was the California state champion

at 126 pounds in the very first California Interscholastic Federation State Girls Wrestling State Invitational Tournament. She also won the Girls Folkstyle Nationals at 130 pounds in March after a disappointing finish at the tournament last year.

“Last year I got second and was disap- pointed. I worked really hard this season and my uncle moved down [to Beaumont] and was my high school coach. He helped me with my confidence,” she said. But her most impressive accomplish-

ment comes from her second-place finish at the U.S. Open in April. She faced Deanna Rix in the 59 kg/130 lbs. finals. “I think I do better when wrestling big competition and don’t expect a lot from myself,” said Hendey. “It was kind of sur- real [getting second]. I was just hoping to qualify for the World Team Trials.” “[Amanda] is young. She didn’t know

how to match up against Deanna,” said Keifer of Hendey’s finals lost against Rix. While she ended the tournament in

defeat, it’s not keeping her down. Hendey’s first trip outside of the coun-

try was to May’s Pan American Championships, held in Rionegro, Colombia. “My goals are what keep me going. I

was taught by my high school coach and people in my life to write down my goals. It keeps me focused,” she said. It also helps to have your uncle on the

side of the mat cheering you on. Hendey’s uncle, David Espinosa, a for-

20 USA Wrestler

Amanda Hendey, shown in last year’s Junior Nationals, has emerged as a top Senior-level prospect after placing second at the U.S. Open. John Sachs photo.

mer wrestler at the University of California-Davis, moved from Northern California to become the high school wrestling coach at Hendey’s high school just in time for her senior year. Having her mentor and someone she looks up to in her corner has helped her improve. “I wouldn’t trade [coaching Amanda] for anything. It’s been awesome. You get a sense of accomplishment when you com- pete and it’s just as good to give her that and see that look on her face. It’s all been for her. I can’t wait to see what hap- pens,” Espinosa said. Hendey’s close relationship with her

uncle has proven to be an asset to her wrestling career. “He’s 10 years older, and I always

wanted to be like him. I watched him wrestle and I saw kids my age doing it,” said Hendey. Proving that she’s not intimidated by

much, she started wrestling at the age of 3.

Now finishing high school, she’s look-

ing to take the next step: college. “I signed to Oklahoma City University. I

wanted to go there since sophomore year. I was recruited after Folkstyle Nationals last year. They have the best

program, I like the team and I think I’ll fit in there. [Going there] will help me reach my goals, and will take my wrestling to the next level,” she said. Oklahoma City University has one of

the top women’s wrestling programs in the country with three straight WCWA National titles. Hendey will be among stars like Kristie Davis, Michaela Hutchison and Nicole Woody. So what will she bring to a powerful team? “She’s a fighter; she’s got that in her

blood. Before she knew anything about wrestling, she fought. She never gives up. She’s very composed, usually people don’t get that when they’re young,” said Espinosa. “She’s been a sponge and doesn’t have any bad habits.” While she soaks up more skills that

she’ll take to the mat, Hendey is looking forward to a bright future. “I think it’d be awesome to make the

World Team. I don’t want to get my hopes up but it’s not out of the question,” she said.

“She’s the kid to beat,” Espinosa said.

“She’s going to make an impact. 2016, I’m planning on going. There is not a doubt in my mind that she’ll be represent- ing the United States in the Olympics.”

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