Shareni Donis has never been one to back down from a challenge.

That type of mentality made her the perfect fit to be the first girls wrestler to ever compete for South High.

Despite blazing a trail filled with many difficulties, Donis demonstrated intense determination and resolve throughout her four-year prep wrestling career.

She unwaveringly overcame every obstacle in her way, capping off her senior season by medaling at CIF State Wrestling Championships.

Donis, the BVarsity All-Area Girls Wrestler of the Year, placed fourth, the best finish of any local girls wrestler in 2019.

“It meant a lot to me,” Donis said of winning a state medal. “I got to prove wrong everyone that doubted me. I showed them. I worked for it, and all my hard work finally paid off.”

Wrestling in the formidable 150-pound weight division, Donis finished the three-day tournament held at Rabobank Arena with an impressive 5-2 record.

A three-time section champion, Donis qualified for the state meet as a sophomore and then again as a junior.

Both times she won matches but was eliminated from the tournament without earning a medal.

This year she wasn’t going to be denied.

“I tried my best because I knew it would be my last time there,” Donis said. “…I really put in a lot of work this season. I’d go to the gym. We’d have Saturday and Sunday practices. I knew it had to be this year. This was my last year. I had no other chance.”

Donis’ start in wrestling began her freshman year. She decided to take up the sport after talking to some football players excited about their plans to compete in other sports later in the year.

“I’m really clumsy,” Donis said. “I fall, so I can’t do soccer. I can’t do basketball. So, I was like, ‘maybe I’ll try wrestling.’ All these guys were like, ‘you can’t do it. Girls shouldn’t wrestle.’ We all joined together for me to prove them wrong.”

Donis spent her freshman year as the only girl on the team. She wasn’t entered in any girls tournaments.

“It was a little hard,” Donis said. “The coaches didn’t really want me there. They kind of pushed me aside a lot.”

Regardless of a tough first year, Donis persevered.

“I would come early to practice to go run,” Donis said. “I stayed later after practice. I’d go to the gym every day to get in an extra mile or two and do a little weight lifting because I knew I wasn’t strong as everyone else.”

Donis’ hard work immediately started paying dividends.

“She had a determination to win,” South coach Quinn Moore said. “She was out to prove anything the boys could do, she could do.”

Donis, who currently has a 4.17 grade point average, is still weighing her options for next year. She has a scholarship offer to wrestle for Emmanuel College in Georgia. She also has been accepted by UC Davis and a couple of other in-state schools.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Donis said.

Regardless of her decision, Donis will be armed with the mindset that made her a success on the mat and in the classroom at South.

“It wasn’t easy for me to get where I am,” Donis said. “I had a lot of doors that were closed to me, and I had to open them up and push through them… If someone tells me I can’t do something, that just gives me a bigger reason to do it.”

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