Llamido taking down expectations


photo by Karson Cuozzo

Llamido’s match just started. She is looking to set up a shot. Llamido won this match by pin, and was the champion of her weight class in the Bear Claw Tournament in 2020.

For years, junior Jada Llamido watched as her older brother won multiple trophies and medals for wrestling. Wanting to win herself, Llamido was motivated to start her own wrestling career. 

“My dad told me that I should check out wrestling since I always watched my brother’s matches,” Llamido said.

Before wrestling, Llamido gained experience in close-contact sports through Judo, a sport focusing on precise footwork and throws. Llamido and her older brother, Tony grew up doing Judo. Ever since she was little, she would watch her brother compete in Judo and wrestling at the same time. 

Llamido’s skill in Judo led her to a second-place finish at the Junior Olympics. She has been involved in Judo for many years, until she was 12. The Junior Olympics was the last Judo tournament she competed in due to indifferences with her coach and herself, causing her to fall out of love with the sport and ultimately returning to wrestling. 

When she began wrestling again, she picked up where she left off. She was the second female at Jenkins Middle School in Denver, Colorado to win districts against the boys. 

“It felt good to win, and good to know that all my hard work paid off,” Llamido said. 

After establishing momentum as a wrestler against boys, it was stripped away due to her stepfather reassignment to Germany while serving in the Army, causing the entire family to move. This presented many challenges like a slight language barrier and cultural changes.

While traveling, language wasn’t a big issue, as most people on the wrestling team spoke English and German, and when they traveled away to tournaments the same thing.

 However, this did not bring her wrestling achievements to a halt. During her freshman year in Germany, she was the first girl at her high school to win southern sectionals in her region of Europe. Llamido was also the only girl on varsity her freshman year in Germany, wrestling in the 126-lbs weight class. 

“It was a great feeling, and I wrestled really well against the boys,” Llamido said.

She was the first and only girl at that school to win sectionals in her region, let alone the only girl to do so. Wrestling boys was something that Llamido was foreign to, but the more comfortable she became, it was obvious it didn’t matter who her opponent is, wrestling is wrestling.

“It was hard and different at first with wrestling guys because they try to use their strength against a girl, but I have somewhat gotten used to wrestling with them,” Llamido said.

During her time in Germany, she did a lot of traveling, as many of her meets were far away from her school, even in other countries. 

“We got to travel all around Italy and Germany for wrestling. It was awesome,” Llamido said. 

After spending a year in Germany, Jada and her family moved back to the states in summer of 2019. After getting a job on a navy base in Florida, she moved to Oviedo

“I was excited about the move, a lot of my friends in Germany were moving away also, so I was glad that I was moving too because I wouldn’t be alone.”  Llamido said. “But I was also a little sad, because I wanted to move back to Colorado because that is where all of my family is.” 

With a new town, came new wrestling teams and clubs. Without much knowledge, it was a challenge to find places to wrestle. Without her family and any friends, she had to start from the bottom for the second time in a one-year span. Eventually, she joined the Florida Jets Wrestling Club.

“My coach made me practice with beginners,” Llamido said. 

 Llamido also faced bullying and abuse at the club; male teammates would purposely harm her and break the rules. On the bright side, she met her future national coach Kirwyn Adderley. 

Adderley is the head coach for the Dr. Phillips girls wrestling team, and he had a big impact on Llamido when she first moved here. 

“He was really nice when we first met. He told me he wanted to become my coach and help me get better at wrestling, and he has,” Llamido said. “He has helped me grow so much as a wrestler.” 

Jada wrestled in national tournaments this summer with Adderley and Steve Hall. Both tournaments were held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. One of the tournaments, Super 32 was a tough tournament, according to Llamido. National ranked wrestlers from all over the country wrestled in the tournament and placed fourth in the all-girls tournament.

“I wasn’t happy with how I performed because I really wanted to take first but looking back, I am proud of myself,” Llamido said. “There were a lot of great wrestlers at that tournament and I placed high for my weight class.”

At the Grappler tournament, she took first place in freestyle and second place in Folkstyle. In freestyle points are counted for more and there are some different moves. Folkstyle wrestling is what is most common in high schools, and headgear is required, but is optional in freestyle. You can use some moves from freestyle, but they won’t be counted for points, and you could possibly get in trouble by some referees. 

         After the summer season was over, high school season arrived. Llamido has been spending extra time after practice to prepare for the state tournament on Feb. 19-20. Last year her record was 26-1, with 26 pins. Her only loss last year was in the state final match. She has been practicing her shots [attacking the opponent’s leg] and technique and going on mile runs to build up her stamina.  

“Last year I was state runner up, I got in my head before my match and I didn’t wrestle as good as I could have. This year, I am determined to be a state Champ,” Llamido said.