Diana Cantini’s wrestling career at Kamiak High School has coincided with an explosion in the sport’s growth.
Cantini said that when she was a freshman, in the 2016-17 season, the idea of wrestling in college was still largely out of reach for most girls in Snohomish County.
The Knights’ senior, who is expected to be a state title contender this season at 110 pounds, said that is no longer the case.
“Colleges are recruiting girls a lot now,” she said. “A lot more colleges are starting girls programs and they need people to fill those spots.”
The Herald spoke to Cantini last week about her background in wrestling, playing violin in Kamiak’s orchestra and her plans for the future.
How did you get into wrestling and what do you enjoy most about the sport?
My dad grew up in Euclid, Ohio, and he wrestled in high school. He made my younger brother, Kevin, start wrestling and I would go to practices with them at USA Everett. Eventually I started joining in on practice. I was in fourth grade, and I’ve loved it ever since. I liked the appeal of being the only girl on the team, and it was something not a lot of people had done. When you start winning more matches, you want to keep wrestling. What’s kept me wrestling is being proud of my accomplishments. You’re not really on a team. It’s up to you, and you take all the recognition for wins. Wrestling is really a very hard sport, and during the season I have a sense of purpose, and a goal I’m trying to achieve. That’s what drives me during the season.
You’ve competed at the state tournament in your first three seasons (Mat Classic XXXII is slated for Feb. 21-22 at the Tacoma Dome). Going back to your first time competing in there, what was the atmosphere like?
My dad actually took me and my brother to the state finals in middle school, so I kind of knew what the dome was like. As a freshman, it looked familiar to me but it’s different when you’re competing. I got pinned in my first match as a freshman and I just remember not being in the right mindset at all. I just wasn’t prepared and wasn’t ready to wrestle. By my junior year, I felt a lot more comfortable and I wasn’t letting the rules or how many mats there are get to me. I was just competing at my best.
Aside from wrestling, what else are you passionate about or do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I do like working out, but that’s kind of part of wrestling. I play violin in our school’s orchestra, and we’re going on a trip to Paris in the spring. That should be interesting. I’m a student director for our school, and I served on the school board and help them make decisions for the school district.
How long have you been playing violin? What’s your favorite piece of music to play?
I’ve been playing since the fifth grade. We played this piece by German composer Felix (Mendelssohn) this year called the Hebrides Overture, where we get to play with the winds (instruments). I enjoy being part of such a great orchestra program.
What are your plans for the future? Would you like to continue wrestling in college?
I think there are schools that I could potentially go to and wrestle, but I haven’t really talked to a lot of them. I don’t think I’m going to wrestle in college because a lot of those schools are in the Midwest and they don’t have a lot of academic prestige. (Not wrestling) would carry me farther in life. As a college athlete, your sport is your life. I’m thinking about studying international relations and after college maybe studying law or going to graduate school.