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SOU's Palma earns bronze at Junior Pan Ams

LIMA, Peru — Breaking new ground is commonplace for the 2-year-old Southern Oregon University women's wrestling team, and one of its members, Gladdys Palma, brought the Raiders into more uncharted territory over the weekend.

Competing for Team USA, Palma captured a freestyle bronze medal Saturday in the Junior Pan American Championships at Villa Deportiva Nacional Videna.

Palma came to SOU via White Swan, Washington, and reached the quarterfinal round of the 136-pound bracket at the Women's College Wrestling Association Championships as a freshman in 2017. For the national team, she was competing at 138 pounds.

"The international and Team USA stuff is a really big deal in women's wrestling, so this was a strong step for us to have Gladdys representing our program so well," SOU head coach Tony Champion said. "Getting to compete down there was a big proving ground and she did a great job."

Palma started with a 3-1 win against Colombia's Aura Andrades Gomez and lost to Ecuador's Leonela Ayovia Parraga in the semifinals. In the medal match, she defeated Emily Sanchez Ortega of Panama by technical fall, 12-2.

Palma was one of eight women representing the U.S. at the tournament. Four of them medaled.

She and Raider teammate Desiree Zavala made the national team by both placing third at the United World Wrestling Junior World Team Trials on May 21 in Irving, Texas. Zavala did so at 147 pounds after placing third at 143 for the Raiders at the WCWA Championships as a freshman in February.

Both will continue to train with the national team, and Champion said there will likely be opportunities to compete at more tournaments this summer.