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High school wrestling: Driven and mature, Chestatee sophomore Redlinger guided program to girls state championship
Isabella Redlinger
Isabella Redlinger celebrates winning the 225-pound girls wrestling state championship Feb. 12 in Macon. Photo courtesy Isabella Redlinger

Isabella Redlinger is a stellar ambassador for girls high school wrestling in the state of Georgia. 

Already a state champion, the Chestatee High sophomore is articulate and willing to work harder than anyone else on the mat. 

Redlinger is also well-rounded with interests away from wrestling, including her participation in student counsel and maintaining exemplary grades. 

The 225-pound state champion is also a member of the school band and has already decided on a career in the military.

Redlinger is still a teenager but has a deeper understanding about succeeding in life than many adults. 

She can detail the benefits of a career in the military — from a character-building standpoint and retirement packages for those who serve.

“Isabella’s a great kid and certainly makes my job easier as a coach,” Chestatee girls wrestling coach Scott DeGraff said. “She’s going to listen to every word you say. And if she does something wrong, it’s because you told her wrong.”

On Friday, Redlinger’s success was paramount as she won the final match of the day at the girls all-classification state meet to secure the team state championship for Chestatee in Macon. She finished the weekend with a 9-0 mark and is already thinking ahead to getting back on the mat. 

Also for Chestatee, Catarina Velasquez (102) and Ashley Godinez (152) finished second at state.

Redlinger doesn’t seek out attention for her success in wrestling. 

However, she’s polished in conversation and has the maturity of someone who is much older and with more life experience. 

Yes, Chestatee’s state champion likes the fact that she is breaking down past gender stereotypes and is showing that girls as just as capable of wrestling as their male counterparts. Redlinger certainly isn’t the kind of person who will be told she can’t do something when she’s willing to put in the work.

However, her main drive is keeping herself in prime physical shape to wrestle for many years to come, with college certainly being a goal, and then a career in the military. 

Where in the past Redlinger liked to swim, her new passion is on the wrestling mat. 

And that’s a positive for the entire wrestling community — locally and across the state. 

“Wrestling is great sport,” Redlinger said. “I think everyone should give it a chance.”

Even though she’s only been wrestling for a couple years, Redlinger’s dedication and maturing is a result of coming from a home where personal discipline is required. 

Both of her parents work in law enforcement and often Isabella, who is one of seven children of Frank and Nicole Esquilin, is needed at home to help care for her younger siblings. 

Redlinger said her parents have given her a very clear picture of what the real world is like, based on their experience with the Atlanta Police Department, and she is doing everything possible to make the entire family proud of her success — in wrestling and in the classroom. 

In fact, Redlinger’s mother is the central focus of a new show on Investigation Discovery, titled ‘Atlanta Justice’, where Esquilin shares stories of cases she worked as a member of the Atlanta homicide division. 

Earlier this year, DeGraff said Redlinger and her family attended the premier of the show, which debuted Dec. 28, 2020 on the true-crime cable network. 

Family is the basis for everything the Chestatee student has accomplished. 

Isabella’s parents want her to know everything is possible, in life, if she’s willing to put in the work. 

Right now, Redlinger is honing that energy into becoming an elite wrestler. 

She doesn’t really care what any critics might say. 

This is what she loves. 

And is progressing at an advanced level for someone so new to the sport. 

At state, DeGraff was staying in touch with Redlinger’s father, keeping him up to date on her progress. 

Little did Redlinger know that the plans were already in motion for the family to attend, if she made it to the finals. 

While she was preparing for the championship bout, DeGraff called Redlinger up to reveal his surprise: both her parents had made it down to Macon to watch that final match at state. 

It set off a warm embrace between the surprised War Eagles wrestler and her parents. 

“That was a cool moment,” DeGraff said. “It’s what you live for as a coach.”

Redlinger and DeGraff went to Macon not even considering the possibility of a team championship. However, as bouts continued Redlinger and her teammates kept checking online to see that their team point total was at the top of the heap. 

Her win at 225 was not necessary to earn the team championship, but it was the icing on the cake for a great weekend for Chestatee’s program. 

After that, it was a moment to celebrate, even though Redlinger said they were all exhausted from a long day wrestling. 

Unable to find a suitable restaurant to eat late at night, they settled for going back to replenish calories in their hotel rooms. 

“Winning a state championship is definitely the highlight of my wrestling career, so far,” said Redlinger, who is venturing into wrestling a national schedule.