Sophomore Gaby Caro makes history as the first MSD wrestler to compete in the FHSAA state series


Courtesy of Ken Gendason

MSD wrestler Gaby Caro places second in the regional tournament to advance to state championship.

Julianne LoFurno, Sports editor

On Thursday, Feb. 17, the MSD wrestling team made their way to their district finals in Fort Lauderdale. Although this year’s district tournament would be viewed as routine for the veteran boys on the team, the scene has completely changed for Gaby Caro, who is currently the only female wrestler that represents MSD.

For the first time, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has sanctioned a women’s wrestling state series, which would make Caro the first MSD wrestler to surpass the women’s wrestling district and regional championships.

Caro is a sophomore at MSD and moved to Parkland from St. Augustine at the beginning of eighth grade. When she entered her freshman year at MSD in 2020, Caro’s main athletic focus was jiu jitsu, which she has been actively competing in for eight years. Caro is extremely versed in the sport and has even won first place in the Pan-American Championship this year.

Wanting to improve her skills further, Caro was in search of an activity to supplement the range of athleticism involved in jiu jitsu. When presented with the benefits the MSD wrestling team offered for her jiu jitsu abilities, Caro could not turn down the opportunity to compete. She officially joined the team during their preseason in September; she was the only girl entering. Despite her gender differences, Caro was accepted by the male-dominated team and encouraged by her teammates.

“So far, I’ve had a great experience on the team,” Caro said. “All of the boys are amazing training partners and they’re all very supportive, always cheering me on at tournaments and pushing me to do better during practice.”

Throughout the wrestling season, Caro’s performance has aided the team in achieving their 3-1 record. Specifically, in her first varsity tournament of the season, Caro placed second in the men’s bracket at Coral Springs High School. Although much of her strength is offered by her near decade in jiu jitsu, Caro trains in great quantities in cardio and endurance to maintain her stamina and physique.

“You have to have better cardio than your opponent. It doesn’t matter how good you are, if you have better cardio, you have a better chance of winning the match,” Caro said. “I personally will go to our practices, and then outside of practice, I go for a run in the morning and another run after practice.”

Competing in multiple seasonal tournaments against mostly boys is sometimes difficult for Caro, as many of her competitors are greater in size and strength. Nonetheless, Caro relies on her athleticism and wit to push her through her matches.

“When wrestling boys, it’s a bit of a challenge with strength and size difference because some of these guys are cutting from much higher weights,” Caro said. “But I always treat the matches the same. I see all opponents the same and impose my will on all of them.”
After completing a strong non-district season, it was time for the MSD wrestling team to enter their state series. As the only female wrestler on the team, Caro was able to compete in the women’s division. She made MSD history as the first woman to compete and succeed in both the FHSAA-sanctioned women’s district and regional championships.

Caro is excited to see progress being made for women’s sports in the state of Florida, and she feels honored to be the first female wrestler to compete in the FHSAA-sanctioned women’s state series.

“I am so happy the FHSAA finally sanctioned women’s wrestling. It’s so cool that they recognized the growth in women participating in the sport,” Caro said. “I think now that they’ve sanctioned it, the sport will grow even more for women.”

Outside of wrestling, Caro plays volleyball, while also enjoying skateboarding and surfing in her free time. Outside of physical activities, Caro likes to spend time with her friends and family and relax by playing her guitar.

The next step in the women’s state series for Caro is the state tournament and championships. Through her hard work and dedication for the sport, she will pose a threat to the other wrestlers aiming to take home the state title. For now, she will continue training hard and sculpting her wrestling skills, while simultaneously improving in jiu jitsu.