STOCKTON – In a fitting center-stage spotlight, a pair of area girl wrestlers deservingly fought for a championship in the Sac-Joaquin Section Girls Wrestling Regional Tournament Saturday at McNair High. Both standouts’ quest for titles came up short, yet still secured them trips south to Lemoore for the California Interscholastic Federation Girls State Invitational Feb. 23.
Weston Ranch’s Alyssa Cantu made her way back to State with a runner-up finish in the 165-pound bracket. Cantu went head-to-head with Edison High standout Gabriela Guzman for the title and suffered a 12-1 defeat. Guzman had stopped Cantu in each of their three meeting this season and all those wins came by way of pin.
“We don’t wrestle not to get pinned we wrestle to win and she’s getting closer,” Weston Ranch head coach Pat King said. “The first couple of time she wrestled her I don’t think she thought she could beat her; she went into this thinking that she could beat her. Now next time when she wrestles her it will be in the State tournament and hopefully it will be in the state finals.
“She’s getting closer and closer and she’ll be a little bit better next time.”
East Union standout Sarah Phillips came into the event as one of the best female wrestlers in the country. Phillips’ primary agenda was securing a berth to State and secondarily to pull for teammate Mariah Wheeler. Wheeler secured her berth and then Phillips participated in arguably the best championship match of the tournament.
The tough Lancer tangled with Woodcreek High’s Lauren Mason for the 103-pound championship. A see-saw battle went back and forth with Phillips setting up the miracle comeback with a two-point reversal to bring her within a point at 9-8. With time elapsing Phillips’ last-ditch efforts came up short and secured the title for Mason.
“Sarah is a great competitor and she is very, very tough,” Woodcreek head coach Doug Mason said. ‘We had to try and go as hard as we could early and try and take our chances in the third period. We were lucky she didn’t get those back points on a few of them and things worked out for us.”
Lathrop’s Jazmine Ivey handed out a host of pins on her way to a state qualifying berth and a third-place finish in the 146-pound bracket. Wheeler (114-pound) came out with an impressive finish to capture the third place honors in her division. Ivey’s trail through the consolation bracket made her placing all the more gratifying, and sets her up for a return to state with intentions on earning a victory.
“It’s really exciting, this whole thing has been so thrilling,” Ivey said. “It has been nerve racking too. I want it so bad, so I am just going to keep pushing for it.”
Ripon High freshman Olittza Maria Garcia made one of the more impressive tourney runs, securing a berth into state with a fourth place finish and doing it by earning her first victories of the season. Garcia put together a 4-2 tournament run in the 189-poound bracket with her first four wins.
“The whole key is just getting to state, for a freshman it was remarkable to see her season,” Ripon co-head coach Tom Owens said. “She just absolutely has turned it around right now and it has been impressive to see.”
In the heart wrenching category, Weston Ranch’s Jazzmen Blackwell suffered a late-round pin in the 128-pound 5th-6th place match, ending her bid to nab a berth in the invitational. Blackwell worked all season, cutting from 145s to make the 128-bracket. Coach King attested to her season-long hard work and said she “definitely deserves to go”.