They say history is written by the winners, and this young lady has indeed written her legacy with her athletic achievements. Michiko Yoshimitsu, a 17-year old senior, became a two time State wrestler this year for Mt. Eden High School.
Last year Yoshimitsu was the first girl ever to qualify for the state competition in the school’s history and was determined to make it back this year.
Although a return to the CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) tournament looked to be nothing but a mere fantasy, as Yoshimitsu battled a shoulder injury for the majority of the season.
On December 15, 2018, at the Women’s West Coast Tournament of Champions in Rocklin California, Yoshimitsu was injured fighting off a wing pinning combination. After that match, Yoshimitsu was pulled from the tournament, and taken to the hospital by Assistant Coach Justin Sturholm.
When asked about her injury and how it almost derailed her state aspersions this is what Yoshimitsu had to say. “Since I was out for about two months and couldn’t wrestle, even in practice, I was worried that I wasn’t going to qualify for state at the NCS championships or even make it back to the league tournament.”
Coach Sturholm gave this response when questioned about Michiko’s injury. “I was unsure if she would be healthy enough to get cleared to complete. If the opportunity presented itself and she was available I had absolutely no doubts that she would once again qualify.”
Fast forward to February 8 and 9 of 2019 for the Girls NCS (North Coast Section) Tournament at Albany High School in Albany California, Yoshimitsu overcame adversity and qualified for state.
Head Coach Todd Rose had this to say about Michiko making state again “In a few words, stressful and nerve-racking. Even though it should have been easier than last year due to the additional NCS placer qualifying, it was still tough for a multitude of reasons. First, her weight class at NCS was one of if the not the most competitive weight class this year. Second, her shoulder injury that continues to plague her.”
Yoshimitsu’s Family was in attendance at the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield California, and Michiko tells us how they feel about her continued success.
“My family is very proud of me & my accomplishments throughout wrestling & always tell me that by becoming the first female wrestler at Mt. Eden to qualify for state, that I have opened doors for females to come out to wrestle. But my family explains to me that by being a 2x state qualifier while being injured & not wrestling for half my season, that I have left behind a great legacy for student-athletes” says Yoshimitsu.
On February 21, 2019, Michiko’s first match was a loss and was done for the day, she knew she had to wrestle hard to stay in the tournament. Day two February 22, 2019, Michiko wins her first match then loses her second match of the day and third match of the tournament thus ending her high school career.
After the loss, Yoshimitsu expressed her thoughts on her high school career. “My time at Mt. Eden has been very stressful, being a full-time athlete year round took up most of my time. Wrestling took up most of my time because of practice and making sure you stay in weight. I started from nothing as a wrestler and made it to where all the champions are.”
Coach Sturholm has this to say about Michiko’s career “She can triumph over any adversity she will face in life. Her legacy will never be duplicated. No one else can ever be the first girls’ state qualifier in school history, now first back to back qualifier. She’s brought recognition to a program that was virtually nonexistent when she started to a team that finished the season with 5 girls and should continue to grow due to her accolades.”
Head Coach Todd Rose was asked with the remaining girls on his roster does he think any of them will make it to State like Michiko did, “Yes, definitely! Having 5-6 girls on the team this year practicing with Michiko took them from beginning wrestlers to intermediate by the end of the season. Those 4-5 girls got to see what it took to get to state and made them hungry to follow in her footsteps. I wouldn’t be surprised if we take 2 or 3 girls to state in the next few years.”
Even though Yoshimitsu’s High School wrestling days are over, it appears as if a collegiate wrestling career is in her future. Michiko was accompanied by Coach Sturholm to three different colleges in the country to check out their wrestling programs. Presbyterian College In Clinton South Carolina, York College in York Nebraska, and Waldorf University In Forest City Iowa.
Coach Sturholm discusses the colleges after his trip. “All three colleges look to be exceptional. Whatever her decision is they will be getting one hell of a young woman for their program. I hope she does as much for them as she did for Mt. Eden.”
Coach Rose gave Michiko some words of advice. “Keep your head on straight and in the books. I know from experience the toll traveling on a collegiate sports team can have on your academics. I wish her the best of luck and can’t wait to see her compete again.”
When asked what her legacy is Yoshimitsu had this to say “I want to leave behind the self-confidence that I have with my teammates for them to help out future athletes.”
I would say Yoshimitsu has an aura about herself. Anytime she had a match there was a big match/ big fight feel about her competitions. All in all, it was an absolute pleasure to watch Michiko’s growth as a wrestler and as a human. Michiko Yoshimitsu for everything that you do to help the girls wrestling program at Mt. Eden, and everything you have done for this team, in general, there are no other words but Thank You.