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EUs trio of female grapplers takes center stage at Masters
East Union’s Sarah Phillips, Stefanie Collins and Mariah Wheeler are stepping out of the boys’ shadow for the Sac-Joaquin Section girls Masters this weekend at McNair High. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Getting ready for a huge wrestling tournament is nothing new to these local area standouts, but preparing to tangle with another girl is not something these wrestlers find that often through the season.

This weekend will usher in a new climate in the high school girls wrestling scene, as the top female wrestlers in the section will show up to McNair High Friday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters in hopes of advancing to the California Interscholastic Federation’s first sanctioned state meet in Lemoore the last weekend in February.

East Union will have three state meet hopefuls looking to qualify for advancing by finishing in the tournament’s top-four places. Senior Sarah Phillips will be leading the pack in the 98-pound weight class, coming in as the Lancers’ most legitimate shot at continuing on their season.

“I think it’s about time we finally get to go against some girls,” East Union’s Phillips said. “I’m pretty excited that its just a girls tournament. It is going to be a more experienced tournament, so I am just going to go out there and do my best.”

Phillips has been a mainstay on the Lancers’ varsity squad, earning the teams’ 103-pound spot by handling anybody she is pitted against – man or woman.

“All of these girls are very deserving,” East Union head coach A.J. Reindel said. “They’ve busted their butts all year. You can see it on the mat and in the way they wrestle, there is no differences in this room.

“Honestly, I wish I had 14 of them like them. They have the heart, they have the desire and they the technique is getting there.”

Sierra High will also have a grappler on the mat, as Jessica Montiel opens her quest for a state tournament berth. Montiel had a great deal of success during the recent Lady Eagles Invitational at Enochs High, earning a second place finish and collecting a pair of third quarter pins on her way.

“We’re hoping that she is able to place and qualify for girls state,” Sierra head coach Alex Nuanez said. “I feel if Jessica wrestles her match she will qualify.

“This young lady has shown us this year her heart is ten times bigger than her body.”

Phillips will be join by a pair of Lancer teammates striving for a trip to state as well. Stefanie Collins and Mariah Wheeler will kick of their postseasons as well after playing prominent roles for the Lancer junior varsity program. Wheeler, a first-year sophomore, and Collins, a seasoned senior, will compete in the 112-pound and 118-pound divisions, respectively.

“I’m excited about the competition,” Collins said. “I am just going to go in there and do my best and hopefully I can get to state.

“We’re on the mat with some of the toughest guys and that prepares us for what we’re going to do this weekend.”

Tournament weigh-ins are scheduled for 8 a.m. Friday, with tournament action scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m.