Ladies of Steele place third at CIF Division I girls wrestling final; East County nets six individual weight class champions

Photo by Phillip Brents Girls wrestling within the San Diego Section was spotlighted last weekend with the Division I tournament at Steele Canyon High School and the Division II tournament at Santana High School. East County finished with six individual CIF champions.

By all accounts, girls wrestling within the San Diego Section continues to grow. Exploding might be a better description.

The section held its Division I and Division II championships last Saturday. The Division I tournament at Steele Canyon High School featured 32 teams while the Division II tournament at Santana High School included a robust field of 39 teams.

That’s a total of 71 schools that participated in this year’s divisional tournaments.

That’s more than impressive.

In fact, the Metro Conference set a record with 112 entrants — 30 more than last year — at its championship tournament on Jan. 26 at Castle Park High School.

“Girls wrestling grew so much this year,” Montgomery High School coach David Jarumayan said. “It’s exciting. There’s a ton of parent support now. There’s a lot of determination from the girls.”

“Girls wrestling is starting to explode,” Castle Park coach Robert Schertzer echoed. “The quality of wrestling is going up. When it first started, there was a lot of head-and-arm pins, now the girls are taking shots, there a lot more moves. It’s been very competitive. It’s picking up steam; it’s growing, and growing fast.”

Case in point: Metro champion Olympian won its fourth CIF championship at this year’s Division I finals. Desert power Brawley captured this year’s Division II championship.

East County fared well as usual with nine finalists and six individual weight class champions.

Steele Canyon finished third in the Division I tournament while Granite Hills was eighth. Monte Vista was fifth at the Division II tournament while Santana and West Hills were 11th and 12th, respectively.

Ladies first

Steele Canyon, Granite Hills, Grossmont, Helix Charter and Valhalla participated in the Division I tournament. Olympian was followed by runner-up San Marcos. Poway finished fourth behind Steele Canyon.

The five East County teams produced three individual weight class champions and two more second-place finishers.

Steele Canyon’s Marina Gonzalez captured the 170-pound individual championship while Granite Hills’ Kyli Stanley (130 pounds) and Lucia Ledezma (140 pounds) each won individual gold medals.

Reika Proctor finished runner-up in her 105-pound weight class for Steele Canyon while Aubrey Gaona was second at 155 pounds for the Lady Cougars.

The top four wrestlers in both the Division I and Division II tournaments received medals as well as earning advancement to the San Diego Section Masters state-qualifying tournament Feb. 17 at Southwest El Centro High School.

Overall, eight East County mat women earned medals in Division I.

Also placing for Steele Canyon were Kayla Hopkins (third, 130 pounds), Sajdel Romero Rodriguez (third, 190 pounds), Valeria Anaya (sixth, 120), Alani Trudgeon (sixth, 145 pounds) and Angelica Murguia (fourth, 235 pounds).

Granite Hills’ place-finishers also included Peyton Wells (fourth, 155 pounds), Jayselle Suetos (sixth, 105 pounds), Natalie Ortiz (sixth, 115 pounds) and Stephanie Mata (sixth, 190 pounds).

Gonzalez finished 4-0 with four pins — 36 seconds over Calexico’s Melany Sanchez in the first round, 1:29 over Granite Hills’ Genesis Heredia in the quarterfinals, 56 seconds over Central Union’s Jovani Calip-Nigos in the semifinals and 1:13 over San Marcos’ Nirvana Tapia in the championship match.

Stanley, a returning state meet qualifier, finished 3-0 with three pins. After receiving a bye, she pinned Scripps Ranch’s Khyla Adams in 3:45 in the quarterfinals and Poway’s Sophia Fodera in 1:24 in the semifinals. The Lady Eagle standout pinned Central Union’s Aubrei Beltran in 4:27 in the championship round.

Ledezma finished 4-0 with three pins. After receiving a bye to start the tournament, she pinned Helix’s Danikah-Lynn Academia in 33 seconds in the second round before pinning Grossmont’s Grace Parent in 5:30 in the quarterfinals. Ledezma pinned Mira Mesa’s Isabel Manalansan in 26 seconds in the semifinals and capped her gold medal performance with a 10-3 decision over Rancho Bernardo’s Mary Snider in the finals.

“Kyli and Lucy looked good and ready for Masters and state,” Granite Hills coach Jesse Sheard said.

By the numbers

Monte Vista, Santana, West Hills, El Capitan, El Cajon Valley, Mountain Empire, Liberty Charter and Mt. Miguel participated in the Division II tournament. Brawley was the division champion, followed by Holtville, Oceanside and Ramona. Southwest El Centro placed sixth behind Monte Vista.

East County finished the tourney with three weight class champions and one runner-up.

Monte Vista’s Olivia Davis, West Hills’ Kayla Lim and El Cajon Valley’s Honey Orduno Rivas, all returning state meet qualifiers, each won gold medals — Lim at 115 pounds, Davis at 140 pounds and Orduno at 235 pounds.

Santana’s Amber Spencer, another returning state meet qualifier, finished second at 145 pounds.

Masters qualifiers also included El Capitan’s Destiny Jahnig (third, 100 pounds) and Lillian Kohler (fourth, 115 pounds), Santana’s Sierra Fahn (third, 125 pounds) and Rachel Taylor (fourth, 140 pounds), Monte Vista’s Emily Hawkins (third, 135 pounds) and Aureliana Velazquez (fourth, 235 pounds).

Other place-winners included Mountain Empire’s Ayana Beltran (fifth, 100 pounds), West Hills’ Gizelle Fort (sixth, 120 pounds) and Mt. Miguel’s Stephanie Boyle (sixth, 235 pounds).

Overall, East County squads recorded 10 medal-winners in Division II.

Davis finished 4-0 with three dominating pins – 13 seconds over Ramona’s Jenna R. Lee in the opening round, 44 seconds over Southwest El Centro’s Keyla Baez in the quarterfinals and Lincoln’s Jazmyne Mora in the semifinals. Davis won by medical forfeit over Oceanside’s Chloe Stidham in the championship round.

Lim finished 5-0 with five pins — 14 seconds over Castle Park’s Brittaney Esparza in the first round, 1:40 over Montgomery’s Elisa Rocha in the second round, 18 seconds over Southwest San Diego’s Michelle Rodriguez in the quarterfinals, 2:23 over El Capitan’s Lillian Kohler in the semifinals and 1:42 over Brawley’s Jocelyn Mendez in the finals.

Orduno Rivas finished 3-0 with three pins — 22 seconds over Mt. Miguel’s Boyle in the quarterfinals, 1:26 over Brawley’s Sevyn Diaz in the semifinals and 1:46 over Holtville’s Kaitlyn Haven in the championship round.

Orduno Rivas spent just 3:34 on the mat.

Lim stunned opponents with four first-period falls.

“In my opinion, there is no one more deserving than Kayla,” West Hills coach Mike Proctor said. “She is truly the heart and soul of our wrestling team. The first one to show up the last one to leave, and the hardest working person in our room. She truly is an exceptional young woman.”

Certainly, Lim will be one of the headliners at the upcoming Masters state-qualifying tournament that will showcase the top four place-winners from each of the Division I and Division II tournaments (eight qualifiers overall).

The top four wrestlers at Masters will receive medals; the top three-place-winners will advance to the state tournament.

Monte Vista’s Davis won last year’s San Diego Masters title while Santana’s Spenser and Granite’s Stanley both finished second. Lim, Granite’s Peyton Wells and ECV’s Orduno Rivas all placed third.