High School Sports

Enochs female wrestling star shoots for state glory

The ambitious goals chased by Enochs High School junior Sariah Jones have not changed. They’ve expanded.

A future Olympiad remains the ultimate target for Jones, 16, a member of Team USA Olympic Development for the last two years. This year, she has added one more – a high school state title.

“It would be great to be a state champ,” said Jones, who’s grown about three inches to 5-foot-3 in the past year. “But freestyle (international wrestling) still is one of my biggest goals.”

Jones competed as a freshman at the CIF Girls Championship and placed fourth at 98 pounds. After she missed the 2014 state meet due to Olympic training in Sweden, she’s excited about her chances at the Girls Masters on Feb.6-7 at McNair in Stockton and at State on Feb. 27-28 at the Visalia Convention Center.

“I want to prove that I’m No. 1 and beat some big names,” she said, “and bring a state title back to Enochs, for its first state title.”

For someone who’s already traveled the globe in pursuit of Olympic glory – she’ll try out for the team in May – Jones still is building her brand on the high school scene. Because she opted out of state last year, she began this season unranked.

Incredibly, she’s ranked No. 2 in the state in the 108-pound class behind an athlete she’s already beaten twice. No problem, according to parents Ruben and Virginia Jones.

“In the end, what happens on the mat matters,” said Ruben, a volunteer Enochs wrestling coach.

Jones (22-0, 19 pins) isn’t exactly an unknown. Last week at Napa – arguably the top regular-season girls tournament – she defeated Miramonte’s Angelica Llanes, a three-time state runner-up, 3-0 in the final. This was progress. She placed fourth as a freshman and second last year at Napa.

The competition for her lacked such intensity Saturday at Enochs’ own Lady Eagles Invitational, where 106 girls gathered. Jones coasted through five wins, all via pin in no longer than 1 minute, 22 seconds. The event drew three girls who are currently ranked No. 1 in the state – Selma freshmen Alleida Martinez (101) and Gracie Figueroa (115) and Iman Kazem of Merrill West (150).

Jones, rangy and limber, performs not unlike a spider circling its prey. She seemingly surrounds her opponent with quickness and experience.

Before her title-winning performance at Napa, Jones earned her first two international gold medals during a trip to Canada. One win came against a field of collegiate-aged women.

Meanwhile, Jones still deals with issues common to most 16-year-olds. She’s trying to earn a driver’s license, but she’s not home often enough to accrue the requisite time behind the wheel.

“I’m still a girly-girl,” she maintains. “But it also feels good to know that I wrestle at the international level. Not many people can say that.”

Jones also knows she’s part of the foundation of a still-young statewide sport. She was the first female wrestler at Enochs and was joined last year by Micaela Kent, the sister of 2014 third-place state medalist McCoy Kent.

This season, Enochs is a 10-member force. In fact, the Eagles are ranked 10th in California, thanks in part to their much-traveled star.

Next month promises more frequent-flyer mileage – trips to Georgia state and Sweden – leading to the important road trip to Visalia.

Gregori Invitational – Golden Valley wrestlers won five weight-class titles and ran away with the team honor at the Gregori Invitational. The Cougars were led by champions Criselio Rivera (108), Tanner Browning (115), co-champs Brady Mello and Caiden Schaefer (128), lower-weights MVP Jacob Perry (134) and Joey Terry (147).

City-schools winners included Israel Saavedra of Modesto (140), Martin Sandoval of Beyer (154) and Bobby Posadas of Grace Davis (184). The upper-weights MVP was Jay Johnson of Buhach Colony.

Bee staff writer Ron Agostini can be reached at ragostini@modbee.com or (209) 578-2302. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeSports.