Photography by Lauren Allen.

Homecoming queen and wrestling champion — two very different titles, held by one Lake Highlands High School student.

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Fernanda Lopez started her senior year in August 2022 ranked seventh nationally in her weight class. A wrestler since her freshman year, she was one of the few that began Lake Highlands’ first female wrestling team.

In October 2022, Lopez was named homecoming queen by her peers. 

“I did not think I was going to win at all,” Lopez says.

After that, she had another win in mind: the state championship. Finishing her junior year in fourth place at the state level and 21st in the nation, she wanted to surpass her previous rankings, especially after watching a national tournament. 

In February, Lopez accomplished her goal and won the tournament.  “Once I put something in my head, I try my best to achieve that,” she says.

Starting on the team with only two other girls, she says she knows she’s an important role model for her teammates. Her triumphs allow other girls who may want to join the team to see that they can achieve. 

“We had to try so hard to show everyone that we were serious about wrestling,” she says.

While her work within her sport and the community has been difficult, it has paid off. As she finishes her last year as a Wildcat, she said she is proud of herself, her team and their joint accomplishments.

Lopez has received a scholarship to Southern Oregon University, where she plans to continue wrestling.