It's appropriate, perhaps, that Alexa Austin and Sarah Aguilar have last names that begin with A, because both got a A for effort and performance at the Central Coast Section Girls Wrestling Championships on Saturday.
Austin, a senior, and Aguilar, a sophomore, captured section titles in their respective weight divisions at Oak Grove High in San Jose. In addition to medals, each earned a trip to the CIF State Championships set for Feb. 27-28 at the Visalia Convention Center.
Austin won the 111-pound title by pinning top-seeded Brooke Lacquata of Alvarez just 1:57 into the title match. She became Paly's first female section champion. Austin finished third at 116-pounds last year, also earning a trip to the state meet.
Austin, the No. 3 seed, opened with a pin of Karla Venegas of Andrew Hill in 1:01. Austin then pinned America Lopez of Overfelt in 2:00 before pinning freshman Gabby Sandoval of Scotts Valley in the semifinals in 3:49.
Aguilar won the 160-pound crown after she took down top-seeded Kathrine Rossiter of Scotts Valley just eight seconds into overtime in the title match.
Aguilar escaped possible defeat with seconds remaining in regulation when she scored a match-tying point just before the final buzzer, forcing the one-minute sudden-death extra period.
Given a second chance, Aguilar came out quickly in OT and wrapped up her first CCS title. She finished fourth at 189 pounds last year, missing a state berth by one spot.
Aguilar opened with a pin of Kirsten Cagle of North Salinas in 1:02 and followed that with a pin of Alexis Castillo of Alisal in 2:29. In the semifinals, Aguilar posted a 5-4 decision over Grace Catton of Prospect.
Thanks to Austin and Aguilar, Palo Alto scored 58 points and finished 10th. Terra Nova won the team title with 180 points. Cupertino (seventh), Milpitas (eighth) and Wilcox (ninth) of the SCVAL De Anza Division also finished ahead of Paly. Gunn finished 24th with 36 points.
Gunn sophomore Ruby Robinson suffered the same fate that Aguilar did last year by taking fourth at 131 pounds. Robinson wrestled six times during the two-day meet while compiling a 4-2 mark, with every match decided by a pin.
Robinson opened with a pin before being pinned in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, Robinson recorded three straight pins before being pinned by Ariana Pineda of Andrew Hill in 2:00 in the third-place match.
Robinson's finish marked the fifth year in a row that Gunn produced at least one CCS placer in the event.
Other Gunn entrants included sophomore Kira Hebbel (0-2 at 106 pounds), senior Katie Barrett (0-2 at 121), junior Miya Miller (3-2 at 126), and sophomore Natalie Jue (1-2 at 137).
Next up will be the SCVAL Championships at Milpitas High on Friday (2 p.m. start) and Saturday (10 a.m. start).
Palo Alto celebrated its Senior Night with seniors Johnny Rojahn, Kevin Mullin, Alex Dees and Corey Bicknell combining for 48 points in a 71-54 nonleague win over visiting Gunn on Saturday night.
The Vikings improved to 17-4 while the Titans dropped to 14-3.
Rojahn had a solid all-around game with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists while Mullin added 17 points and seven assists after tying his career high with 35 points on Friday night in a win over Los Altos. Bicknell and Dees combined for 12 points while the Vikings made 52 percent of their field goals (26 of 50). Paly drained 11 three-pointers with Rojahn sizzling with a 5-for-7 effort from long range.
Gunn junior Alex Gil-Fernandez tallied a game-high 21 points.
Palo Alto is off until Friday, when it visits Homestead (4-5, 13-7) in SCVAL De Anza Division action. The Vikings will visit Fremont (6-2, 14-5) on Feb. 20 to likely decide the division title on the final day of the regular season.
Gunn, meanwhile, continues to share the SCVAL El Camino Division lead with Saratoga -- both with 7-1 marks. The Titans visit Monta Vista on Tuesday before hosting Saratoga on Friday (6:15 p.m.) with the division lead at stake.
Palo Alto moved to within a victory of clinching the SCVAL De Anza Division title by shutting down visiting Gunn, 35-23, on Saturday.
The Vikings kept their perfect league season intact at 10-0 (20-2 overall) while the Titans lost their third straight and fell to 3-6 (6-10).
Lauren Koyama led the Vikings with 10 points. The Paly defense held Gunn to three points in the first quarter and just two in the fourth period while winning its 10th straight game.
Paige Ogawa had nine points for Gunn while Meghan Mahoney pulled down 12 rebounds.
Palo Alto is off until Friday, when it will visit second-place Mountain View to decide the regular-season title.
In nonleague action, Pinewood played host to Scotts Valley in a makeup game and came away with a 56-53 victory. The Panthers, ranked No. 6 in the state by MaxPreps.com, improved to 17-2 while ending a 17-game win streak by Scotts Valley (20-3).
Pinewood trailed by 47-39 entering the fourth quarter, but clamped down on defense and allowed just six points in the final period. With the game tied at 53 with 29.3 seconds to play, Pinewood sophomore Akayla Hackson made a pair of free throws to help clinch the victory.
Scotts Valley hurt itself by making only nine of 19 free throws, while Pinewood was 11 of 16.
Senior Marissa Hing led Pinewood with 17 points, 10 in the second half. Hackson added 11 points. Gabi Bade finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and four steals while fellow senior Nia Craig added nine points and nine boards.
Pinewood, which has won 11 straight and leads the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) by two games over Menlo School and Eastside Prep with four to play, has another makeup game on Monday night against visiting Mercy-San Francisco at 6:30 p.m. That game was postponed from Friday due to a power outage at Pinewood.
Menlo-Atherton needs a head boys volleyball coach and an assistant badminton coach for this spring. Stipend is $3,300. Contact Steven Kryger at email@example.com.