At the Napa Valley Classic tournament in early January, it was decision time for Gregori senior Liliana Vergara.
That tournament would decide if she would stay in the 170-pound weight class or drop down to 163.
Vergara won her weight title at 170 and has remained there since.
“It was one of the toughest tournaments I have been in this year,” Vergara said.
Vergara is 26-0 and the No. 3 seed at the CIF State Wrestling Championships that begin Thursday in Bakersfield.
She is looking for redemption after finishing in second in the 150-pound division last year.
“The state meet is literally all I can think about in the past month,” she said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
The goals this year have been pretty simple: Have fun and win a state title.
Vergara, who won the 170-pound title at the Masters Meet last week, is ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Wrestling.
“I have to go in there confident and I can’t be hesitant with anything,” she said.
A special group at Pitman: This is Adam Vasconcellos’ 11th year as head coach of the Pitman wresting team.
Vasconcellos said on Tuesday that this year’s team, which is sending a school-record six wrestlers to the CIF State State Wrestling Meet, is a special group.
“It’s our group of juniors,” Vasconcellos said. “We have a ton of juniors on this team and since their freshman year, we knew they would be a special group. All six kids going to state are coming back next year.”
Headlining the group of juniors are Izzy Tubera (113-pound) and Sammy Silveria (145-pound).
Both Silveria and Tubera won their weight classes at the Masters Meet last week and both competed at the State Meet last year.
“The better kids set a tone in the wrestling room,” Vasconcellos said. “(Kendall) La Rosa, (Juan) Mota, and Izzy... They show up every day and are contagious to the other kids. The younger kids are looking up to them and it breeds the depth that our team has.”
One of the biggest differences in this year’s state meet is the tournament is three days instead of two, meaning more weigh-ins for each competitor and longer days at Rabobank Arena.
Said Vasconcellos: “We are battling the unknown.”
The three-day competition is what the NCAA does.
“The key is keeping the kids healthy,” he said.
Before his time at Pitman, Vasconcellos was the head coach at Central Catholic for five years and the Raiders placed third in 2008, his last year with the program. They had three state champions and four Top 8 finishers that year.
“I’ve been to this tournament every year for the last 16 or 17 years,” he said. “Every match is important at the state tournament. There are no easy matches.”
Pitman has never had a state champion but that could change, especially on the girls side with freshman Lilly Freitas, who is 29-0 and the No. 3 seed in the 143-pound division.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. for girls and 1 p.m. for boys on Thursday.
BOYS STATE MEET QUALIFIERS
Here are the qualifiers for this weekend’s CIF State Meet in Bakersfield (Feb. 21-23)
|Devin Holman||132||El Capitan|
|Michael Miller||138||Central Valley|
|Patrick Garcia||152||Modesto Christian|
|Kendall La Rosa||160||Pitman|
|Kodiak Stephens||170||Bret Harte|
GIRLS STATE MEET QUALIFIERS
Here are the qualifiers for this weekend’s girls CIF State Meet in Bakersfield (Feb. 21-23)
|Destiny Torres||126||Los Banos|
|Carla Martinez||131||Central Valley|
|Leonor Del Rio||131||Pacheco|
|Brianna Quiroz||150||Central Valley|
|Linda Pelayo||160||Los Banos|
|Ramona Jimenez||160||Mountain House|
|Alejandra Gonzalez||170||Buhach Colony|