Arianna Marrufo pleaded for an opportunity to wrestle for two years.
Older brother Adrian Marrufo, however, didn’t have a choice.
Now, five years after Arianna joined Adrian on the mat, they will be the only brother-sister tandem from a Central Section school in action this weekend as the girls chase state titles and the boys seek spots in the state finals.
Dos Palos High sophomore Arianna will compete in the 108-pound division at the CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships on Friday and Saturday at the Visalia Convention Center.
Dos Palos High senior Adrian is part of the field in the 126-pound division at the section’s Masters Championships on Saturday at Lemoore High, where the top 10 placers in each weight class will advance to the CIF State Championships. Adrian is a two-time state qualifier.
“This is a special moment and speaks to the work and time their parents put in and the time everyone at the youth club have put in to building them up,” Dos Palos coach Sergio Padilla said. “Not too many people out there as siblings qualify for the state tournament in the same season.”
Arianna and Adrian’s father, Ramon Marrufo, was a four-year wrestler at Dos Palos and couldn’t wait to get the only son of his four children involved in the sport.
Ramon signed a then-6-year-old Adrian up for the Dos Palos Youth Wrestling Club on a Thursday and had him competing in a tournament by Sunday.
“Wrestling is a life lesson,” Ramon Marrufo said. “It teaches you to fight for yourself.”
But when Arianna, the youngest child of Ramon and his wife, Mary, asked if she could follow in Adrian’s footsteps, she was initially rebuffed. For two years, anyway.
“Even though there were some girls already out there, I considered it a boys sport and didn’t want her to be a part of that,” her father said. “But the part of her not wrestling because she’s a girl quickly went out the door.”
Arianna started wrestling in the fifth grade and competed for three years before tiring of the sport and walking away from it as an eighth-grader.
She was talked into returning to the mat as a sophomore by friend and fellow Broncos wrestler Eryka Rodriguez, and they helped form a five-member girls squad that was the biggest in school history.
With that many wrestlers, Dos Palos administrators ponied up the funds to send them to four girls-only tournaments, where Arianna excelled. She placed fourth at the Lady Baylor Bash in Hollister, first at the Lady Eagle Invitational in Modesto, fourth at the Lady Tiger Invitational in Lodi and first at the Panther Invitational in Los Banos.
That set the stage for Arianna’s run at the section Masters, where she beat Edison’s Sasha Solano-McDaniel in a true second-place match to capture the first state finals berth for a Dos Palos girls wrestler.
Entering the state tournament 27-5, she drew a first-round bye and will take on the winner between San Joaquin Section champ Sariyah Jones of Enochs-Modesto or Southern Section sixth-place finisher Brianne Penunuri of El Monte in the second round.
“This is an awesome feeling,” Arianna said of qualifying for state. “I want to do well because everyone knows my brother real well. He’s one of the best wrestlers in Dos Palos, and I don’t want to be in his shadow. I’m the first girl to make state from Dos Palos, and I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
Adrian is seeking his third trip to state, which is set for March 4-5 at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena. He went 1-2 as the section’s seventh-place qualifier as a sophomore, then went 3-2 and finished in the top 12 after qualifying fifth out of the section as a junior, both at 120 pounds.
He enters the Masters meet 43-3, having won titles at the Dos Palos Invitational, Chukchansi Invitational, Bert Mar Invitational and West Sierra League finals, earning a second-place finish at the Sierra/Sequoia Divisionals and third-place efforts at the Joe Rios Memorial and MidCals.
“I hope I improve on how I did last year. We’ll see what happens,” Adrian said. “My goals are top three at Masters, if not make the finals, and I hope to place at state.”
Because of their weight difference, Arianna and Adrian don’t often wrestle each other at practice, but with only six Broncos still alive this week, Padilla got a glimpse into their sibling rivalry during a take-down drill.
“They got after it a little,” Padilla said. “It was kind of fun watching.”
Luckily for Padilla, there are no valuables in the Broncos’ practice room, unlike the Marrufo living room, where Arianna and Adrian have broken lamps and vases wrestling each other.
“She seems to go harder against me than anyone else,” Adrian said. “She gets very competitive.”
Arianna said she has to be.
“He always wants to beat me up,” Arianna said. “He’s made me tough. Growing up with him and wrestling him, I’ve had to be tough. I hate when he beats me. I just want to beat him because he’s my brother.”
All sibling rivalry issues aside, they do have a deep respect for one another.
“He’s always telling me to do your best and trying to show me all kinds of moves,” Arianna said. “He really pushes me.”
Adrian is proud of his sister.
“I’m so happy for her. I hope she does good,” Adrian said. “She used to cheer for me, and I would make fun of her. But now that she wrestles, we spend a lot of time together.”
High school wrestling
CIF STATE GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday: 9 a.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m., finals 6 p.m.
Site: Visalia Convention Center
CENTRAL SECTION MASTERS
Saturday: 9 a.m., finals 5 p.m.
Site: Lemoore High Event Center