JoJera Dodge’s statuesque stature and fierce wrestling abilities are quite different from her calm, composed and quite humble personality. Born and raised in Kirtland, New Mexico, Dodge currently wrestles in the heavyweight division for Grays Harbor College.

Grays Harbor College Women’s Wrestler Brings Home National Titles

A little over two minutes into the NCWA National Championships in March 2024 in Louisiana, Dodge pinned her opponent, securing an individual national title for herself. Simultaneously, Dodge was one of the key players responsible for the group’s national team title.

Jojera Dodge having her hand raised by the wrestling referee after winning a match
JoHera Dodge continues her success from high school at Grays Harbor College by winning the individual national title at the National Wrestling Championship. Photo credit: Caleb Steele

However, this big win isn’t the first for Dodge. It all started one pivotal weekend in her 10th grade year. That Friday, Dodge went from feeling the disappointment of not making the basketball team. To feeling determined the next Monday to make it to the state championship. As a wrestler.

Dodge succeeded too. That year, as the referee threw her hand up in success, Dodge shot up one finger. She knew that was just the first of her wins.

She was right.

She won the state championship again her junior year. That year, as the referee threw her hand up in victory, Dodge shot up two fingers, knowing what was to come next.

Undefeated her senior year of high school at 18-0, Dodge had the state championship in the bag. You can see the footage of her throwing up that third finger in triumph as she graciously accepts the win.

Dodge’s little brother was, and still is, a big part of her training. “He helped me become a 3-time champion in high school,” she says. “He knows a lot about wrestling, like all of the techniques and moves. He would show me. I knew the basics, but he knew more. He was a heavyweight too.”

How did Dodge feel wrapping up her senior year as a 3-time state champion? “It was really a surreal feeling!” she says. “I couldn’t believe I was a 3-timer. I knew from the beginning. I knew I had it because I was working so hard. On the mat I would just block out everybody. I had that much confidence in myself. I was ice cold.”

JoJera Dodge offers a quick handshake before pinning opponent Evelyn Coronado in just over 2 minutes at the National Wrestling Championship in Louisiana last month. Photo courtesy: JoJera Dodge

JoJera Dodge, Grays Harbor College Lightweight Wrestler Returns Home to Train

Weighing in at 200 pounds and standing at 5-foot, 8-inches, Dodge is considered a light heavyweight wrestler. “I like being a light heavyweight because I can get around them fast and knock them down,” Dodge states. “Some opponents can look buff or strong, but it all comes down to knowing your skills and not tiring yourself out too fast.”

During the wrestling season, Dodge practices with her team. The workouts are tedious and they’ve paid off. Dodge’s teammate, Renaeh Ureste, is a 2-time national champion and one of Dodge’s close friends. “I’d say she’s part of my inspiration for becoming a national champ,” says Dodge about Ureste.  “When I first met her, we just clicked. We pushed each other every day at practice. We just want to be the best and be on top.”

When off off-season hits, Dodge goes back to her hometown in New Mexico. She mainly trains at home, but the only place with a mat is her former high school. “I teach them about the technique and skills,” she says about visiting her alma mater. “I’ve been learning freestyle and folkstyle. They like training with me.”

Coaches from her high school were pleasantly surprised when they saw the unexpected turnout of women wrestlers after her wins. “I would say I’ve helped a lot in the community to encourage more girls to join a physical sport,” Dodge shares. “Wrestling is the #1 sport that pushes you both mentally and physically. It’s a sport I fell in love with… even when you lose, it leads you to a transformative peak.”

Her passion for wrestling has encouraged so many. When Dodge joined the wrestling team her sophomore year in high school, there were only three girls on the team. “That’s when the girls’ division was building up,” she says. Today, just a few short years later, Kirtland Central High School has 14 women wrestlers. What’s remarkable about Dodge is how freely she is willing to share everything she knows about wrestling to encourage other young women to pursue the sport themselves.

Encouragement and support are big reasons Dodge has come so far in such a short time. The place she gets it the most is from her siblings. “I owe them a lot for getting me to this level,” Dodge says. “They’ve believed in me in whatever I do. They always help me up when I feel dragged down. As far as my family goes, they’re always supportive in what I do. They’ve proved to me that I’m capable of doing anything.”

After such a big success at such an early time in her college career, everyone is wondering how it feels and what’s next for Dodge. “It’s a lot to take in,” she answers.  “I’m a national champ. Others are going to be after my title. I just want to keep building myself up as a better wrestler and maintain that championship. I want to embrace my journey.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email