– It is time to make hotel reservations.
Nine local wrestlers entered the second day of the Sac-Joaquin Section masters wrestling championships Saturday either having already qualified for the CIF State Championships in Bakersfield or a match or two away from doing so.
When the dust settled at the Stockton Arena, Sierra’s Alexa Garcia and Ripon’s Katelynn Cardoza broke through to win gold medals and lead a contingent of six wrestlers to Rabobank Arena on Friday.
A senior, Garcia (189 pounds) placed second at Masters in 2019 and followed that up with a sixth-place finish at State.
Garcia notched a second-round pin against Casa Roble’s Casey Rankin in the semifinals and needed just 1 minute, 42 seconds to pin Wood’s Kailee Rivera for the championship.
“This feels great,” Garcia said. “I have been working for this. Last year I got second here and this year I got the gold medal.
“Today I felt like I could get first place. I moved up from 160’s and I think that gave me an advantage because at that weight you have to move faster.”
Ripon sophomore Katelynn Cardoza (143) qualified for State last year after finishing fourth at Masters and she made things interesting on Saturday when she notched four points in the final 30 seconds of the championship match with Live Oak’s Izabella Fredericks to post a thrilling 5-3 win.
“This is just amazing,” Cardoza said as she fought back tears of joy. “I have so much support and I worked so hard to get here. This is only me second year of wrestling and I think I am doing pretty good.
“I tried to shoot at the end of that last match because I did not want overtime. I don’t normally do a single leg, but I did, and now I need to practice it.”
Lathrop freshman Janida Garcia (121) tallied a first-round pin over Armijo’s Ashlee Gutierrez in the semifinals but could not find her rhythm in the finals, dropping a 4-1 decision to Orland’s Jennifer Soto for the silver medal.
“I practiced hard and I trained hard,” Janida Garcia said. “I couldn’t quite get it today, but I hope to see her again at state.”
As if going to State as a freshman was not enough, Janida Garcia accomplished that while also playing on the Spartans freshmen girls basketball team.
“I was tired a lot,” Garcia said. “It took a lot of dedication but I was doing the sports I love.”
Other girls State qualifiers were Ripon’s Alyssa Oliver (116, fifth) and Sierra’s Cami Jarmon (111, sixth).
East Union’s Tyler Diaz (138) Joe Luna (145), Manteca’s Dominik Neuharth (195) and Sierra’s Manny Zavala (285) started Saturday needing two wins out of the gate to finish in the Top 6 and qualify for State. Only Diaz got the job done and finished fifth with with Zavala finishing seventh and Neuharth eighth. Luna’s lingering knee injury forced him to forfeit the seventh-place match.
“The goal is not just to make it to state,” Diaz said. “The goal is to win it.
“I feel good being the only guy around here to make it to state. But the bottom line is I just want to keep winning.”