The high school that embraces girls wrestling more than any other in the Central Section lapped the field to win a third straight Masters title – in its home gym no less.
And now Selma turns its attention toward a legitimate run at a CIF State Girls Championship.
Behind four individual champions and three other state qualifiers, the Bears scored 201.5 points to easily outdistance second-place Golden Valley (94) and third-place Sanger (91) on Thursday in a meet event that sends its top two placers in each weight class to the state championship Feb. 26-27 at the Visalia Convention Center.
Leading Selma’s charge will be defending state champions Alleida Martinez and Gracie Figueroa, a pair of sophomores who captured second straight Masters titles at 103 and 118 pounds, respectively. Marijah Morales (108) and Jerzie Estrada (133) also won titles for the Bears, while Alexis Morfin (123), Ruth Calderon (172) and Mikayla Balladares (237) each qualified.
4 Individual section champions for Selma, which won the team title at the Central Section Girls Masters wrestling tournament with 201.5 points
Last season, with Martinez and Figueroa as the only point producers out of five qualifiers, Selma finished seventh at state with 62 points, 19 behind champion Enochs-Modesto.
Selma coach Andy Munoz expects Martinez, Figueroa and Estrada to contend for individual crowns, which should put the Bears solidly in the chase for the team title.
“The field is wide open for the state title,”said Munoz, whose program had 25 girl wrestlers this season, more than double any other school in the Central Section. “It’s going to be a tight race.”
Martinez got Selma off to a quick start in the Masters finals by pinning Bullard’s Jocelyn Hernandez in 1:01 to improve to 13-0 for the season. Martinez, who won all three of her Masters matches by pin, was wrestling in her second tournament after missing two months because of appendix surgery.
“I’m getting back into it,” said Martinez, who won the 101-pound state title last season. “I’m happy and excited to go back and try and get the same thing again.”
Figueroa also pinned her way to a title, stopping Chowchilla’s Marlee Groomes in 3:36 during the 118-pound final to cap a 3-0 run through the tournament. She is 21-0 on the season.
“I feel like I am on top of my game,” said Figueroa, who competed at the Cadet World Championships in Bosnia-Herzegovina in August. “I’ve just got to focus on school and wrestling and I should be good. My coaches are pushing me hard and I feel I’m ready.”
Morales (20-2) earned a 16-1 technical fall over Edison’s Sasha Solano McDaniel in the 108-pound final, and Estrada (6-0) pinned Golden West’s Jacqueline Flores in 1:09 at 133.
In other tournament highlights, Lemoore’s Esperanza Cadena won her third straight Masters title with a 13-0 major decision over Selma’s Morfin at 123. Cadena (23-1) won her first two matches by pin while adding to section titles she won at 126 pounds as a sophomore and junior.
“It’s a great feeling to make history at Lemoore and to help bring more girls in the room and inspire them,” said Cadena, who placed fifth at the state meet last season and has eight college scholarship offers. “Competing at state is a great opportunity for me. It’s like the greatest thing in my life right now.”
The most exciting performance of the finals belonged to Porterville’s Lorna Mendoza, who was trailing Golden Valley’s Arnae Lefotu 10-6 late in the third period – and 8-2 at one point in the match – before scoring a pin with 30 seconds left.
First of all, I never gave up. I went this far, so I kept telling myself to keep scoring.
Porterville’s Lorna Mendoza, who rallied from a 10-6 deficit to pin Golden Valley’s Arnae Lefotu in 5:30 to win the 139-pound title at the Central Section Girls Masters wrestling tournament
“First of all, I never gave up,” Mendoza said. “I went this far, so I kept telling myself to keep scoring. In the end, that motivation helped me. It’s a great accomplishment. All the hard work paid off.”
Also winning titles were Tulare’s Jessica Sanchez at 113, Golden Valley’s Valeria Sanchez at 128, Highland’s Courtney Bojorquez at 145, East Bakerfield’s Jairi Quintero at 152, Golden Valley’s Avealouman Lefotu at 162, Roosevelt’s Amber King at 172, Sierra Pacific’s Katelyn Blanchard at 191 and Sanger’s Kyra Allen at 237.
It was the third section title for Bojorquez. Sanchez, Allen and King are their schools’ first section champions, while Blanchard became her school’s second section champ after finishing second at 237 last season.
CENTRAL SECTION MASTERS
Top 2 in each weight class advance to the CIF State Championships on Feb. 26-27 at the Visalia Convention Center. In weight classes where the second- and third-place finishers did not wrestle, a true second place match was contested to determine the section's second state qualifier.
Teams: Selma 201.5, Golden Valley 94.0, Sanger 91.0, East Bakersfield 86.0, Edison 61.0, Golden West 58.0, Lemoore 57.0, Porterville 56.0, Highland 48.0, Monache 43.0, Dos Palos 36.0, Mt Whitney 34.0, Mission Oak 31.0, Kern Valley 29.0, Redwood 29.0, Reedley 26.0, Tulare 26.0, Hanford 25.0, Bullard 24.0, Roosevelt 24.0, Sierra Pacific 24.0, Clovis 21.5, Coalinga 21.5, Granite Hills 21.0, Chowchilla 18.0, Fresno 18.0, Tranquility 18.0, Washington 17.0, Arvin 16.0, Orange Cove 15.0, Ridgeview 15.0, Delano 14.0, Woodlake 14.0, Stockdale 13.0, Shafter 11.0, North 10.0, Dinuba 9.0, Hanford West 9.0, Caruthers 4.0, McLane 4.0.
103: 1st, Alleida Martinez, Selma, p. Jocelyn Hernandez, Bullard, 1:01. 3rd-place match: Arianna Andrus, Coalinga, p. Abigail Gonzalez, Delano, 2:52. True 2nd: Andrus d. Hernandez.
108: 1st, Marijah Morales, Selma, tech fall Sasha Solano McDaniel, Edison, 16-1. 3rd-place match: Arianna Marrufo, Dos Palos, maj. d. Paola Juarez, Orange Cove, 18-6. True 2nd: Marrufo d. Wynn
113: 1st, Jessica Sanchez, Tulare, d. Brittany Wynn, Granite Hills, 7-3. 3rd-place match: Hannah Castro, Clovis, p. Meleynah Gonzalez, Tranquillity, 2:29.
118: 1st, Gracie Figueroa, Selma, p. Marlee Groomes, Chowchilla, 3:36. 3rd-place match: Ashley Venegas, Mt. Whitney, p. Maria Guerra, Edison, 1:24. True 2nd: Venegas d. Groomes
123: 1st, Esperanza Cadena, Lemoore, maj. d. Alexis Morfin, Selma, 13-0. 3rd-place match: Eryka Rodriguez, Dos Palos, p. Tesse Monahan, Kern Valley, 5:38.
128: 1st, Valeria Sanchez, Golden Valley, p. Cynthia Pelayo, East Bakersfield, 0:42. 3rd-place match: Maria Barillas, Redwood, d. Rachel Bothello, Fresno, 2-1.
133: 1st, Jerzie Estrada, Selma, p. Jacqueline Flores, Golden West, 1:09. 3rd-place match: Bryanna Chavez, Sanger, d. Melissa Santillan, Mt. Whitney, 8-2. True 2nd: Flores d. Chavez.
139: 1st, Lorna Mendoza, Porterville, p. Arnae Lefotu, Golden Valley, 5:30. 3rd-place match: Bryanna Garza, Sanger, p. Skye Edwards, Selma, 5:35.
145: 1st, Courtney Bojorquez, Highland, p. Ellianet Herrera, East, 1:39. 3rd-place match: Diana Meza, Reedley, p. Carmen Tapia, Porterville, 3:21. True 2nd: Meza d. Herrera.
152: 1st, Jairi Quintero, East Bakersfield, p. Mariana Salazar, Mission Oak, 1:06. 3rd-place match: Julya Marquez, Golden West, p. Malorie Soto, Stockdale, 4:51. True 2nd: Salazar d. Marquez.
162: 1st, Avealouman Lefotu, Golden Valley, p. Isabella Din, Hanford, 1:33. 3rd-place match: Felipa Acosta, Monache, p. Jasmine Torres, Sanger, 2:42. True 2nd: Din d. Acosta.
172: 1st, Amber King, Roosevelt, p. Ruth Calderon, Selma, 1:19. 3rd-place match: Paloma Casillas, East Bakersfield, p. Jade Rodriguez, Monache, 1:22.
191: 1st, Katelyn Blanchard, Sierra Pacific, p. Kayvette Osorio, Golden Valley, 0:59. 3rd-place match: Nancy Zermeno, Edison, p. Eunique Barns, Lemoore, 4:51. True 2nd: Osorio d. Zermeno.
237: 1st, Kyra Allen, Sanger, d. Mikayla Balladares, Selma, 7-4. 3rd-place match: Ashlin Cardwell, Monache, p. Brianna Holt, Woodlake, 1:55. True 2nd: Balladares d. Cardwell.