PLAINVILLE — A Plainville High School freshman won top honors in her weight class at the All Japan Female Open Championship wrestling tournament last month.
Dakota Dinielli won the 70 kilogram class for junior high school students, the Japanese equivalent to seventh through ninth grade. She competed as part of the American Kinparo World Team, which brings top female athletes from around the country to the contest.
As soon as her first match began, Dinielli noticed a difference in how her Japanese opponents sparred with her.
“They kind of stayed back and tried to figure me out,” she said. “But I just went in and was very, very aggressive. I think it caught them off guard a little bit.”
The Japanese wrestlers tend to focus a lot on technique, she added.
“She’s got an internal drive that she just doesn’t quit,” said Travis Carpenter, one of three world team coaches. “She's very well trained and just has that win at all costs mentality. ”
Carpenter said the competition, held in Mishima, has served as a springboard for young wrestlers. The contest is the second largest held by the Japan Wrestling Federation. Some who do well at this event go on to compete in the Olympics, he said.
Kim Dinielli, Dakota’s mother, said Dakota’s aggressive style makes her a potent wrestler.
“They call it gassing out — until her gas tank is empty — she doesn't give up,” her mom said. “If she's down a couple points and time is running out and she's got 10 seconds left, she's not quitting. The match isn't over until the buzzer rings.”
Thirteen time zones away, Kim Dinielli stayed up waiting for updates from coaches as her daughter competed.
“I try to always be there for her because it's exciting… I was so full of mixed emotions because I was so happy that she won, but I was so sad because I couldn't be there to congratulate her,” she said. “It was probably the hardest part of the trip, was knowing how well she did and I couldn't be there to congratulate her.”
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