PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Alixandra Medeiros is all about breaking barriers.

That’s why the 17-year-old is not only on the cheerleading squad at La Salle Academy, she’s also part of the boys’ varsity wrestling team.

“Joining the team was never even a thought in my mind until this year,” she said. “I thought doing wrestling would allow me to step out of my comfort zone and encourage others to step out of theirs.”

Medeiros said participating in a male-dominated sport isn’t always easy.

“There’s an awkwardness when you’re wrestling a boy,” she said. “You’re at practice with only boys.”

Medeiros credits head coach Rob Raso and his staff for helping her leave it all on the mat, adding that it’s part of her strategy.

“I block out everything,” Medeiros said. “I do the same with cheer. I get mad at whatever, if I had a terrible lunch, I’m going to channel being angry. That’s how I get through competitions and matches.”

And her strategy works. Medeiros won her first wrestling match at the George Bossi Holiday Tournament in Massachusetts last month, becoming the first girl to win a varsity match in La Salle history.

Medeiros said it took her a minute to realize what she’d accomplished.

“I had no idea. No idea at all,” Medeiros said. “I looked at my coach and thought I was dying inside because I was so winded, and he looked at me and said, ‘you won, Ali.'”

“It didn’t register until that night and I was sitting in my hotel bed and said, ‘I won today,'” she continued.

Medeiros said her late cousin Sherri is one of her inspirations. She hopes to follow in Sherri’s footsteps by serving in the U.S. Marines, though she is still deciding whether to go to college before enlisting.

In the meantime, her goal is to place or even win a wrestling state title.