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Girls wrestling gets the official CIF treatment Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 10 2012 05:10 PM

It might be a bit cheesy to say “You go, girl!” But, in this case, that urban phrase for encouragement fits the situation as the first-ever officially sanctioned San Diego Section girls wrestling championships took place Jan. 28 at San Pasqual High School.

The Bonita Vista Barons led the local field with three placers — two champions and one bronze medalist — to make a bold statement for South County. Overall, there were four Metro Conference place-winners.

The Barons’ champions included Brittany Lopez and Desiree Macias-Palomata, who competed at 105 and 128 pounds, respectively. Melissa Valenzuela finished third in her 115-pound weight class.

Girls wrestling has grown steadily over the past two decades from individual girls competing on a smattering of teams — early pioneers in the Metro Conference included Chula Vista’s Miranda Carson-Hambrick, Montgomery’s Erica Jimenez and Tabitha Coffey and Mar Vista’s Andrea Delos Reyes — to full-blown varsity squads.

Ninety-one girls from 32 San Diego Section schools competed in the sport last year. They were among 1,910 girls from throughout the state who participated in high school wrestling.

The first official girls high school wrestling state championships took place last year.

Steele Canyon coach Trevor Keifer called the first official CIF San Diego Section girls wrestling championships a project “10 years in the making.”

Coaches point to the surge in interest due to the inclusion of women’s wrestling as an Olympic sport in 2004.

Lopez described her feelings of winning the 105-pound title as “overwhelming.”

“I asked her what she wanted to do to celebrate and she just wanted to go home and take a nap because the wrestling took so much of her energy,” said proud mom Olga Lopez. “We were both on such a high the whole weekend.”

Brittany Lopez remains energized after pinning a male wrestler in a dual meet between Bonita Vista and Eastlake last week.

The younger Lopez has been wrestling for two years. Her inaugural season was one of gaining experience, as she failed to win a match.

What’s that ode to hard work and dedication — what a difference a year can make …?

Lopez defeated Steele Canyon’s Marissa Gutierrez to win the 105 title. A YouTube video chronicles the event and shows Lopez bravely — and brilliantly — fighting off her back from several near pins to record the history-making win.

Macias-Palomata defeated Monte Vista’s Gabriel Fleming to win her championship title while BVHS teammate Valenzuela topped Hoover’s Clare Millan to capture her third-place medal.

The two Baron champions were among three finalists from the Sweetwater Union High School District.
Sweetwater’s Theresa Ortega finished second at 110 pounds following a loss to Steele Canyon’s Apolonia Pina.

Steele Canyon made an impression with nine individual champions, six silver medalists and two bronze medalists.

The Cougars’ honor roll of champions also included Kayla Lam-Little (116), Danielle Schneider (120), Brooke Huerta (124), Marki Simmons (134), Cassie Bettner (140), Brittney Yost (148), Carole Neri (191) and Dejauh Thompson (237).

Also winning inaugural CIF girls wrestling weight class titles were Hoover’s Kenia Rendon (100), San Diego’s Penelope Lilly King-Smithson (156) and San Pasqual’s Mariana Angel (167).

Also recording runner-up place-finishes were Steele Canyon’s Margarita Meza (100), Clarissa Gutierrez (116), Eva Saksa (148), Elsa Rodriguez (156) and K’La Hunter (167), Mt. Miguel’s Mt. Miguel’s Vanessa Estrada (140) and Gianna Nadermann (191), The Rock Academy’s Riley Jo Lamb (120), Westview’s Lauren Horgan (124) and San Pasqual’s Belen Sarabia (134).

“In my mind, (all) our girls are already champions just because they are brave enough to step on the mat,” Olga Lopez said.

What’s next?
While the 2012 tournament determined official girls wrestling section champions in each of the 14 weight divisions, along with a team champion (Steele Canyon), locals will still have to qualify through the Southern California regional Friday and Saturday in Beaumont where they will compete against other female wrestlers from the Southern, Los Angles and Central sections for berths in the state championship tournament.

The state tournament is scheduled Feb. 24-25 in Lemoore.

In 2013, San Diego Section individual weight class champions will automatically qualify for the state tournament (as is the current case in boys wrestling).

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