Manteca resident Aysia Cortez’s toughest challenger in Saturday’s 3rd Annual Lady Eagle Invitational was the scale.
Competing at 126 for the first time, she initially checked in 2 pounds heavier and had an hour to shed weight.
“The other girls (at 131) always felt a little heavier to me, so I thought (moving down) would be easier,” Cortez said.
Cutting the weight on short notice wasn’t easy, she admitted, but after doing so the rest was cake, as the Venture Academy junior went on to win her first tournament championship. She won all four of her matches at Del Oro High of Loomis and is sure to have shaken up the Sac-Joaquin Section girls wrestling rankings in the process.
Unranked going into the event, she knocked off the The California Wrestler’s No. 2 and 3 competitors in the 126-pound division en route to capturing the gold.
Cortez opened against third-ranked Alex Ceballos of Inderkum and won, 4-0. It was a rematch of their second-round bout in the massive 17th Annual Napa Valley Girls Classic back on Jan. 9-10. Ceballos was losing the match on points but stopped Cortez with a second-period pin. Both wrestlers were at 131 back then, and Cortez felt stronger at the lighter weight in the second go-around.
“I was more prepared for her this time,” Cortez said.
She then outpointed Yulisa Medrano of Windsor, 8-4, before edging El Camino’s Sadie Harper, 2-0, in the semifinals. Cortez punctuated her title run with a second-period pinning of Del Oro’s Maddy Lyons, the section’s No. 2-ranked 126-pounder.
Cortez did not place in the Napa tournament but finished with a respectable 5-2 record. On Jan. 17 she was the runner-up 131-pounder at the Enochs tournament.
Cortez credits the help of her many coaches for her steady rise in the sport. Jesse Vasquez is her coach at Venture Academy, but because she is the only girl on the squad he isn’t always available to guide her the day of tournaments. Various coaches representing Manteca Unified schools help coach her up, as do her father and older brother Jason Sr. and Jason Jr., who prepped at East Union.
“I can see that I’m improving a lot more in these tournaments and I am thankful for all the help I get from local coaches,” she said.
The Lady Eagle Invitational served as her only tune-up at 126 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Regional Invitational held at Stockton’s McNair High this Friday and Saturday. Last year she advanced to the second day but finished 2-2 at 131 and well short of a top-five finish. The top five qualify for the CIF State Championships scheduled for Feb. 27-28 at Visalia Convention Center.
“I just want to go out there and do my best, give it my all and hopefully qualify for state,” Cortez said. “I’m actually a lot more confident this time knowing that I can do better in the 126-pound bracket.”