TRACY — When West High junior Kalila Shrive joined her school’s wrestling team, being a national champion probably wasn’t her first thought.
“When I first started, I never thought I would be a national champion,” she said.
After winning the 2022 CIF state title on Feb. 26, the 16-year-old jumped at her chance at the Virginia Beach, Virginia Nationals and won the NHSCA All-American National Championship in the 160-pound class on March 27, becoming the third An All-American athlete from Western High School.
For a champion wrestler with no wrestling experience starting his freshman year, the achievement seemed out of reach.
“It was nerve-wracking; I didn’t know what to do or what to expect when I came in,” she added.
But West assistant coach Roy Bravo said he saw a lot of potential when the 5-foot-9 San Leandro native stepped on the mat.
“When she started wrestling, no other girl was as tall or as big as her. Even some of our boys were smaller,” Bravo said. “I thought she looked like a good athlete when she came in, but I didn’t realize how strong and explosive she was until I actually started wrestling with her during my freshman year.”
Although she is new to wrestling, her athleticism gives her an edge against her opponents.
Her parents Damon Shrive and Gail Shrive said she started exercising as a child.
“She started jiu-jitsu at age four for eight years. She’s always been a strong kid, and she’s been swimming a lot,” Damon Shrive said.
Gail Shrive says her daughter is willing to step out of her comfort zone.
“Kalila is adventurous, she loves trying new things,” she said.
Wrestling is another challenge Kalila Shrive said she wanted to face the challenge head on.
“When I saw wrestling was a thing in high school, I wanted to try it. I found it similar to Jiu-Jitsu and thought about giving it a shot, and I ended up loving it,” Shrive said.
But most importantly, she said she loves wrestling because of the people in the group.
“I think it’s probably because I’m an only child,” Schrieff said. “When I got into wrestling, the other wrestlers were so supportive that it was like family. I guess you could say I have a sibling-like relationship with many of my teammates. They are like brothers I never had sisters.”
Shrive soon began to get the hang of wrestling.
She competed in the state championship and finished eighth in 2020 as a freshman.
“She’s very coached and trains like she believes in you. There are a lot of great wrestlers who have heard their coaching, but they don’t apply it. I think that’s where she does a better job than most,” said Bu Laver said.
Shrive shares the same athletic drive as her parents, both fitness fanatics and owner of the Revolution XT Fitness gym in Tracy.
“She’s a lot like us; my husband (Damon) and I are both adrenaline junkies. I practiced kickboxing and kickboxing as a kid,” says Gail Shrieff.
Kalila endured hours of intense training, starting every day at 6am running with her teammates, swimming in the afternoon and working out at her parents’ gym at night.
“She knows what she wants, and you can tell by how much she trains and how much she pays attention to things. She’s strong, determined, and fearless. During COVID, we’ll be training in the gym every night for two years without too much A lot of other things happen so we get fit and healthy,” Damon Shrive said.
Aside from being the best player in the nation, one of the most memorable moments of the year was winning the state title in her weight class, beating Gilroy sophomore Kaiulani Garcia in her final bout, who was The Central Coast Division champion coached by UFC legend Daniel Cormier.
“I think state was one of the biggest bright spots; it cemented her status as the best in the state. Like after winning the state title, she started wrestling like a state champion and got even more with all the confidence she gained from it. It’s hard to wrestle,” Bravo said.
Bravo’s help with Shrive goes beyond the mat, assisting her with counseling.
“He also helped me a lot with time management,” Kalila said. “My biggest challenge is time management. With all the training I’ve done, sometimes I don’t have much time for homework.”
“A lot of things I would tell her was, ‘Make sure you take care of yourself and make sure you’re happy. You don’t want to get burned. We’re going to do a lot of training in the offseason, but sometimes the brain just needs to reflect and do mental representation,'” Bravo Say.
Five days after winning the high school national championship, West High Junior received recognition for athletic achievement from the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on April 1.
Despite her achievements, Bravo says Shrive can still do more.
“She’s always open to learning and takes constructive criticism. She’s really humble and she’s still willing to learn. It also has an attitude of gratitude and being grateful for where she is. She can achieve anything she sets her mind to things to do; if she wants to win an Olympic gold medal, I believe she has that ability,” Bravo said.
Recording journalist David Victor covers sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.