Grappling girl: New Haven freshman wrestler to represent US at Pan Am Games

Local News

WATERLOO, Ind. (WANE) – Julianna Ocampo can barely remember one of the first times she won a wrestling meet.

As one of 10 siblings, “Jules” was only four years old when she pinned a 6-year old boy during a meet in Huntington.

“After that, she was always ready to wrestle,” said Amy, Jules mother. “Always.”

Jules’ father, Samuel, a former wrestler himself, has coached seven of his 10 children over the years. However, he noticed something different with Jules when she learned how to execute moves at a faster rate than her older siblings.

“She was always in good position,” Samuel said. “That was different, I had older kids that were really good, but she, technically, was sound immediately.”

Beast Mode Wrestling Academy in Waterloo

More than 10 years after Jules started on the mat, the New Haven High School freshman is getting ready to represent Team USA in wrestling for the U15 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. Six months ago, Jules qualified for the national team after winning in convincing fashion over multiple opponents during team trials in Texas.

When she is not competing in local, regional and national meets, Jules spends several days a week training at her family’s Beast Mode Wrestling Academy, located inside the Classic City Center in Waterloo. Jules often switches up her opponents throughout practice, sparring against boys, girls, and even her own siblings.

Jules is a girl of few words; she would rather let her action on the mat do the talking.

Most of her life, Jules has competed against boys. She has embraced the challenge as she has already won over a dozen state championships in various organizations during her lifetime.

“She’s very focused, she’s very driven to what she wants and she works for it,” said Samuel. “I couldn’t be happier about her all the way around in general.”

Like her father, Jules is already committed to training the next generation of wrestlers, both boys and girls. A couple times a week, Jules partners with her father to coach some of the younger kids at Beast Mode.

“It’s really fun to do, seeing that I can coach little kids and become a great wrestler as well,” Jules said.

Among the dozens of wrestlers present at practice on Thursday night, almost half were girls. Samuel hopes his daughter’s success will inspire other young girls to get interested in the sport.

“It’s going to take time, still, because there’s not a lot (of girls), but we have quite a few in our room who are stepping up and progressing,” Samuel said. “It all helps and stems from our older girls.”

Looking ahead to next week’s Pan Am games, Jules admits she is a little nervous. However, she is also excited to see how she stacks up against international competition. Her ultimate goal is to compete on the world’s biggest stage.

“I think what inspires me the most is I want to become an Olympic wrestler, and in my mind I have to work hard and push myself,” said Jules.

Jules will go for gold when she competes in the U15 Pan Am games from Oct. 21 – 24.

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