Kirsten Johnson wants to know where her daughter Syria Rhodes gets her calm demeanor.
Certainly not from mom.
"I'm a nervous wreck all the time when she competes," Johnson said. "This is my baby. Yet I look at her and nothing ever seems to rattle her."
Rhodes is a 5-foot, 106-pound dynamo who has no time to be rattled. She excels in just about every aspect of her life, be it in the classroom at Valley High School, on a wrestling or judo mat, or playing the clarinet.
"She's truly an amazing story," Valley wrestling coach Rod Edmiston said. "What she's doing is exceptional."
Rhodes is a two-time Metro Conference wrestling champion, pinning opponents in the championship match both years. She is 25-8 against boys and 4-0 vs. girls this season.
She may not look the part, but Rhodes morphs into a pocket-size Wonder Woman.
"She's a shy girl, definitely no extrovert," said Edmiston. "But when she steps on the mat, she becomes a different person."
"I've seen boys leave the mat in tears," Johnson said. "I've seen some walk away hurt and upset."
Most realize and are quick to acknowledge that they've been beaten by the better wrestler, and no boy has refused to step on the mat with her.
"You go out there to try to win," Rhodes said. "As long as you follow the rules, you can do pretty much whatever you want."
Last Saturday, she lost by pin to Woodcreek sophomore James Gomez in the 106-pound championship match of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II divisional finals at Del Oro High School in Loomis.
As the only girl in the tournament, Rhodes went 2-1. She pinned Roseville sophomore Logan Runner on Friday and decisioned Del Oro sophomore Isaac Blackburn (who beat her in last year's tournament) in Saturday's semifinals.
The semifinal match drew a large and enthusiastic following for the petite senior.
"I'd say three-quarters of those watching the match were rooting for her, even though her opponent was from Del Oro," Edmiston said. "I'm not sure any girl has ever done what she did (wrestling for a divisional title) on Saturday."
Section media director and longtime wrestling aficionado Will DeBoard couldn't remember another girl section finalist.
"But I think it's unprecedented, at least in a division that high," DeBoard said. "That's pretty impressive when you consider how tough this section is in wrestling, and how many strong teams there are in that division."
Yet in a bittersweet twist, while Runner and Blackburn qualified for today's section Masters Meet in Stockton, Rhodes did not.
Because she won the girls Regional Invitational championship Feb. 4, she is ineligible for the Masters Meet, the last step before the CIF Boys Wrestling State Championships (March 2-3) in Bakersfield.
Instead, Rhodes will compete at the CIF Girls Wrestling State Invitational beginning Friday in Lemoore. California is one of only a handful of states that holds a girls state wrestling event.
Although Rhodes prefers wrestling boys, she understands why she isn't allowed to compete in both tournaments.
"It wouldn't be fair for me to do both when the boys can only do one," Rhodes said. "I'm just happy I get to wrestle another week."
That she has excelled so well in the physically and mentally taxing sport, often against taller and stronger rivals, is a testament to Rhodes' remarkable talent.
She's only wrestled competitively for three years and only during the high school season because she competes nationally in judo. She represented the United States at the Junior World Games in Cape Town, South Africa, last year.
She plays clarinet in the school band sometimes hustling from a wrestling competition to music rehearsals and maintains a 3.78 grade-point average while taking honors courses.
When Rhodes first tried out for the wrestling team her sophomore year, Edmiston admits he was skeptical.
"I had never coached a girl before and had no idea what I was getting," said Edmiston, a wrestling coach for 28 years. "She was so quiet and shy, I figured she wouldn't last competing against boys."
Edmiston is glad he was wrong.
He admitted as much at a team awards night last year when he presented Rhodes with the second annual Lloyd Dale Edmiston Memorial Award, named in honor of his father, a former Marine who was wounded in the Korean War.
"I started it two years ago to honor my father and recognize the wrestler who shows, during the course of a season, courage, determination and perseverance," Edmiston said.
With Rhodes helping to lead the way, Valley won the Metro Conference tournament championship for the second year in a row earlier this month. The Vikings are 33-8 in dual meets the past two seasons and have a full complement of wrestlers when there was just a handful before Edmiston arrived four seasons ago.
The program stands as a beacon at the school, which has seen a decline in enrollment.
Rhodes could become Valley's first state wrestling champion Saturday.
But as is her demeanor, she soft sells her chances. She says she knows nothing about her opponents and hasn't set winning a state title as a goal.
She hopes to wrestle well and stay injury-free.
Last year, Rhodes was so banged up with shoulder, rib and ankle woes that she failed to place.
She continues to deal with a chronic sore right shoulder, the result of a judo injury suffered when she was 12. It's all those dings that have Rhodes interested in becoming a physical therapist or working in sports medicine.
She's leaning toward attending Fresno State or Sacramento State because of their kinesiology programs.
But four-time defending national champion Oklahoma City University has inquired about Rhodes' interest in wrestling in college, and Edmiston hopes to talk her into it.
Judo is still in the picture, too, though Rhodes has no thoughts of trying to make the Olympics. Still, she would like to qualify for one more USA Junior World Games team before aging out.
"I can still practice judo, but I don't know about the time demands of college wrestling," said Rhodes, whose twin, Spencer, is involved in ROTC at Valley and will join the Army upon graduation in June. "I really want to focus on getting a degree."
No extracurricular activities could be tough though less stressful for mom, who attends all of her daughter's sports and school activities.
"She's been competing in something or another for most of her life, so I understand that she wants to take a break," Johnson said. "I'm just so proud of all the things she has accomplished. She is an amazing person."