For competing in only their first year as a team, the Menlo-Atherton girls made quite an impact in their inaugural season.
After finishing second at the recent PAL Championships, the Bears had two individual champs and finished fourth in the team race at Saturday's Central Coast Section Championships at Independence High in San Jose.
Junior Chelsea Wilson, the No. 2 seed, defeated top seed Martina Valdez of Silver Creek, 3-1, in sudden-victory overtime with a takedown with 8.3 seconds left to win at 106 pounds. Also, No. 1 seed Folashade Akinola defeated Terra Nova's No. 2-seeded Minnah Adams, 5-1, to win at 160.
Both earned berths for the sixth annual CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships, set for Friday and Saturday at the Visalia Convention Center.
Wilson was a state qualifier as a freshman after finishing third at CCS. She couldn't compete last season due to an injury. Her win in the finals avenged a 5-1 loss to Valdez earlier in the season.
The Bears, meanwhile, scored 111 points to trail only CCS team champion Terra Nova (180.5), Silver Creek (126) and Alisal (124.5).
"Thrilled with the team's performance," said M-A head coach Phil Hoang. "Nine of 10 of our participants are first-year wrestlers. We sat out Evelyn Calhoon, Nicol Garcia and Chase Wagner due to injury. We think they could have added 20-35 team points."
That would have landed M-A in second.
"Our athletes wrestled some very tough competition and under tough circumstances," said Hoang. "Bianca Vargas wrestled through injury and pushed to the point the sole on her shoe broke during a match. Lauren Fuller, who was absent from the PAL (Championships) due to injury, was relentless about competing at CCS and added some much-needed team points for the team with her pins. Angie (Bautista) wrestled with added pressure to be with her family, as her mother was in labor on Friday."
All in all, said Hoang, his girls gained invaluable experience as eight of his 10 entrants made it to the second day.
"Chelsea was seeded second in the tournament. She had a good pre-finals run and pinned all her opponents through the semifinals to reach the finals," said Hoang. "Her finals match lasted longer than all her matches combined prior to the finals. She had less than five minutes of cumulative wrestling time prior to finals due to how quickly she pinned her opponents.
"Earlier this season, she lost to Valdez 5-1. Valdez is tough and is coached very well by her dad and coaches. Chelsea, earning the sudden victory takedown, really summed up the amount of work she has put in this year to recover from injury and prepare against these tough opponents."
Akinola, a freshmen, pinned all her opponents through the quarterfinals. She decisioned Grace Catton of Prospect, 4-3, in the semifinals before posting her victory over Adams in the finals.
"I like that she is a risk-taker and willing to test what works for her in her match," Hoang said. "Folashade came from the Beechwood Club as a middle school wrestler under Coach Nathan Pantoja and those kids pick up a lot of heart as they enter high school. There is no question heart played a role in her earning a championship this past weekend."
Joining Wilson and Akinola at the state meet will be Menlo-Atherton's Abby Ericson at 189 pounds and Palo Alto junior Sara Aguilar at 160.
Aguilar, a reigning CCS champ, registered three straight pins before falling to Terra Nova's Adams by pin in 3:58. Aguilar bounced back in the consolation bracket for an 8-1 decision over Sarah Quinones (Lowell) before pinning Prospects's Catton in just 56 seconds for third place.
With fewer competitors in her bracket, Ericson needed only four matches to secure third. She opened with a pin before suffering a pin. Ericson then registered a pin in 2:05 before pinning Nadian Ortiz of Independence in 2:45 for a state berth.
Gunn, meanwhile, had eight wrestlers overall make it to the second day, with four placing among the top eight. Junior David Abramovitch (126) led the squad with a sixth-place finish and the only medal for the Titans. Juniors Andrew Maltz (285) and Ruby Robinson (131) and senior Miya Miller all placed seventh.
Maltz finished 2-2 with all the matches decided by pin. He wound up 13-4 this season with every match decided by a pin.
"We knew we had a young team going in," said Gunn coach Chris Horpel. "If you had told me then that we would end up sending 16 to the CCS Championships and have four finish in the top eight, I would have said that was a stretch. So, I am pleasantly surprised and incredibly proud of the progress our team made all season long.
The Gunn girls finished 22nd and the boys settled for 30th.
2016 CCS WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Gregory Garcia (SH Cathedral) dec. Eric Wei (Gunn), 12-9; Jacob Torculas (Soledad) dec. Wei, 7-2 (Wei eliminated)
Andrew Wang (Palo Alto) p. Alex Henderson (Bellarmine), 1:48; Wang dec. Thor Oglesby (Monte Vista Christian), 3-1; Edrey Casamino (Half Moon Bay) major dec. Wang, 14-6; Eric Santos (Riordan) p. Wang, 3:45 (Wang eliminated)
David Abramovitch (Gunn) d. Alfredo Mendoza (Salinas), 5-4; John Fox (Gilroy) p. Ambramovitch, 3:23; Abramovitch dec. Esriel Verdusco (Santa Clara), 6-5; Abramovitch p. Jeremy Brown (Santa Teresa), 4:12; Abramovitch maj. dec. Nathaniel Stern (Riordan), 12-0; Abramovitch dec. Frankie Renteria (Monterey), 3-2; Andrew Sanchez (Oak Grove) pinned Abramovitch 1:57. 5th place: Louis Gueziec (Fremont) dec Abramovitch, 10-7
Andreas Guerrero (Bellarmine) p. Aaron Schultz (Gunn), 3:38; Schultz p. Parker Rinnuhofer (Salinas), 0:41; Newud Habtum (Cupertino) dec. Schultz, 7-2 (Schultz eliminated)
Danny Velez (Aptos) p. Thomas Chang-Davidson (Gunn), 2:19; Chang-Davidson p. Jack Woods (Serra), 0:40; Chang-Davidson dec. Darren Foronda (Milpitas), 19-12; Alvin Chen (Wilcox) p. Chang-Davidson, 1:44 (Chang-Davidson eliminated)
Eric Fernandez (San Benito def. Eric Andreae (Menlo-Atherton); Sebastian Mallory-Neuberg (Harbor) p. Andreae, 4:49 (Andreae eliminated)
Nick Ozden (Menlo-Atherton) p. Angel Sarabajal (Gilroy), 4:48; Kenji Kadokura (Monta Vista) tech fall Ozden, 17-2; Taniela Feliciano-Takafu (Fremont) p. Ozden, 2:21 (Ozden eliminated)
Dash Lee (Gunn) p. Jared Cook (Palma), 4:00; Kevin Ruiz (Alvarez) maj. dec. Lee, 11-0; Lee p. Jose Luna (Willow Glen), 3:56; Isaiah Martin (Aragon) maj. dec. Lee, 14-2 (Lee eliminated)
Jose Quintero (Alisal) dec. Steven Lassen (Gunn), 7-1; Alexiy Mukin (Evergreen Valley) dec. Lassen, 4-2 (Lassen eliminated)
Andrew Maltz (Gunn) p. Michel Jucco (Mitty) 0:48; Christian Rebottaro (Monte Vista Christian) p. Maltz, 1:44; Maltz p. Brenden Visperas (Overfelt), 0:36; Jose Sanchez (Gonzales) p. Maltz, 2:49 (Maltz eliminated)
Makisi Tonga (Menlo-Atherton) p. Jeric Magsamboi (Palma), 2:00; John Bayley (Westmont) p. Tonga, 1:16; Mercury Compagno (Monterey) p. Tonga, 4:11 (Tonga eliminated)
Luke Cruz (South SF) p. Kevin Giffen (Palo Alto), 1:45; Giffen p. Ramon Norita (Soledad), 2:05; Giffen dec. Eddie Duran (Piedmont Hills), 7-2; Compagno p. Giffen, 2:43 (Giffen eliminated)
Lilianna Tostado (Mt. Pleasant) p. Lauren Fuller (Menlo-Atherton), 2:39; Fuller p. Bianca Ortega (Salinas), 3:00; Fuller p. Sammantha Strickland (San Benito), 1:30; Sophia Mercado (Presentation) p. Fuller, 2:46 (Fuller eliminated)
Chelsea Wilson (Menlo-Atherton) p. Makelah Napolitano (North Salinas), 0:37; Wilson p. Helen Chen (Monta Vista), 1:13; Wilson p. Tania Cruz (SF International), 0:45; Wilson p. Chrizna Milanes (Overfelt), 1:09. Finals: Wilson dec. Martha Valdez (Silver Creek), 3-2
Tania Cruz (SF International) injury default Emily Miller (Gunn); Daniela Salazar (Watsonville) won by injury default over Miller, 3:25 (Miller eliminated)
Bianca Vargas (Menlo-Atherton) dec. Angela Hawthorne (Cupertino), 10-7; Mia Olmos (Lynbrook) dec. Vargas; Vargas dec. Gina Andona (Santa Teresa), 9-7; Harley Sui (Cupertino) p. Vargas, 3:00 (Vargas eliminated)
Maritza Ochoa (Leigh) p. Angela Bautista (Menlo-Atherton), 1:59; Bautista dec. Sarah Krail (Willow Glen), 9-3; Bautista maj. dec. Sidney Brooks (El Camino), 9-7; Abigaile Villavaso (Hill) p. Bautista, 1:41 (Bautista eliminated)
Natalie Ruiz (Terra Nova) p. Maia Foelsch (Gunn), 2:52; Villavaso p. Foelsch, 3:00 (Foelsch eliminated)
Haven Olmos (Lincoln SJ) p. Julia Laws (Gunn), 4:25; Arika Nowack (Silver Creek) dec. Laws, 2-1 (Laws eliminated)
Cynthia Cruz (Overfelt) dec. Lauren McDonnell (Menlo-Atherton), 1-0; McDonnell dec. Rachel Stern (Monterey), 3-1; McDonnell dec. Tianna Sui (Lowell), 4-2; Victoria Cabrera (Alisal) dec. McDonnell, 4-0 (McDonnell eliminated)
Deliah Houck (N. Monterey) p. Aishah Maas (Palo Alto), 1:57; Maas p. Gabriella Cheng Sandoval (Aragon), 0:47; Maas dec. E. DeJesus, 6-5; Maas p. Lisel Badjaros Zamora (Half Moon Bay), 2:18; Maas dec. Cynthia Cruz (Overfelt), 8-3; Michella Ochoa (Sequoia) p. Maas, 3:28 (Maas eliminated)
Miya Miller (Gunn) p. Elise Wise (Mission SF), 1:53; Miller p. Alyssa Sockol (Monterey), 1:34; Jenna Garcia (ND-Salinas) p. Miller, 2:34; Miller dec Marisol Orozco (Watsonville), 6-2; Sarah Guetaf (Fremont) p. Miller, 3:27 (Miller eliminated)
Masako Perez (Paly) p. Valencia Cortez (Lick), 1:20; Perez p. Emily Burke (Cupertino), 2:19; Dalia Cabrera (Alisal) p. Perez, 0:44; Tavarez dec. Perez, 4-3 (Perez eliminated)
Ruby Robinson (Gunn) p. Emily Mendez (Half Moon Bay) 0:59; Ariana Pineda (Andrew Hill) p. Robinson, 5:18; Robinson p. Bella Dufek (Aptos), 2:15; Robinson p. Melody Calderon (Santa Teresa), 2:29; Robinson p. Madison Corpus (Milpitas) 0:30; Shannon Proa (Salinas) p. Robinson, 3:48 (Robinson eliminated)
Paola Ramirez (M-A) p. Liana Reyes Deleon (Mitty), 1:13; Yvonne Tran (Silver Creek) p. Ramirez, 3:09; Tanya Bihag (Lincoln SF) p. Ramirez, 1:00 (Ramirez eliminated)
Hayley Nguyen (Yerba Buena) p. Natalie Jue (Gunn), 1:24; Jue p. Cheryl Jimenez (Gunderson) 0:17; Jue p. Dafny Lopez (Watsonville), 2:57; Riana Perez (Alisal) p. Jue, 0:18 (Jue eliminated)
Adriana Orozco (Gilroy) p. Gillian King (Gunn), 1:36; King p. Delielah Lopez (Willow Glen), 3:35; King p. Daniela Corona (Half Moon Bay), 3:58; Brenda Hernandez (Alisal) dec King, 4-2 (King eliminated)
Koren English (Monterey) p. Hannah Illathu (Gunn), 0:23; Melani Ikahihifo (Mills) p. Illathu 2:01 (Illathu eliminated)
Folashade Akinola (M-A) p. Maria Ruiz (Yerba Buena), 0:53; Akinola p. Sammantha Aguilar (Mt. Pleasant), 4:14; Akinola p. Teresa Ceja Saucedo (Salinas), 1:36; Akinola dec. Grace Catton (Prospect), 4-3. Finals: Akinola dec. Minnah Adams (Terra Nova), 5-1
Sara Aguilar (Paly) p. Melanie Ikahihito (Mills), 1:15; Aguilar p. Maribel Saucedo (San Benito), 0:28; Aguilar p. Dyanna Aguilera (Santa Cruz), 4:45; Adams (Terra Nova) p. Aguilar, 3:58; Aguilar dec. Sarah Quinones (Lowell), 8-1. Third place: Aguilar p. Grace Catton (Prospect), 0:56
Bryanna Crick (Watsonville) p. Caterina Carvalho (M-A), 0:56; Karla Adams (Prospect) p. Carvahlo, 2:06 (Carvahlo eliminated)
Abby Ericson (M-A) p. Nadian Ortiz (Independence), 0:40; Cittaly Lopez (Alvarez) p. Erickson, 3:28; Ericson p. Yanira Herrera, 2:05. Third place: Ericson p. Nadian Ortiz (Independence), 2:45
Susan James (Andrew Hill) dec. Livienna Lie (M-A), 3-2. Third place: Kayana Ronquillo (HMB) p. Lie, 1:34