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Weston Ranchs Cantu aiming high for girls state tourney
Weston Ranch's Alyssa Cantu will make a return trip to the State Championships this weekend in Lemoore.

WESTON RANCH – In a moment’s notice you can see them working.

Grabbing, pulling, twisting, shifting and even slapping during two and three minute exchanges. Sweat slips off their face like milk dripping off the chin of a baby. The room is warm – and air is stale, at best – they don’t seem to mind one bit.

They’re wrestlers.

They’re girls.

The 2013 California Interscholastic Federation Girls State Invitational is exactly where Weston Ranch’s Alyssa Cantu expected to be. She made the trip a year ago, finished as a State placer in the tournament as a sophomore. Friday she will make the return trip, along with four other area hopefuls vying for a spot on the medalist platform.

Cantu will join East Union’s Sarah Phillips (103, first round bye) and Mariah Wheeler (114, vs. Maria Ramirez) and Ripon freshman Olittza Maria Garcia (185, vs. Jennifer Sanderson). Cantu and Lathrop High’s Jazmine Ivey (146, vs. Abigail Moreno) have shared time on the mat over the past two weeks in preparation for the state tourney. The pair grinded to no end in the Cougars’ wrestling room Wednesday, highlighting the importance of their upcoming business in Lemoore.

“I have a lot of respect for Jazmine Ivey,” Weston Ranch head coach Pat King said. “The work ethic she brings in here; I’ve gotten to know her the past two weeks and I fully expect her to go down there and place.

“She’s a go-getter, just like Alyssa. In a perfect world they’d get to wrestle each other everyday.”

Sheer numbers plague the girls wrestling scene more than anything, eliminating the opportunity of getting a tough, evenly matched training session with another girl wrestler your size. The pair have definitely taken advantage of their time and opportunity together on the mat.

Cantu has been here before and has an understanding on what to expect. Upping her finish from a season ago is important, but Cantu really just wants to put forth a good effort.

“When I get down there I am expecting to place in the top-3,” Cantu said. “The goal is to do better than I did last year. I think I have gotten better mentally. I’m more focused and I expect to do better than I have ever done.”

For a championship, Cantu will undoubtedly have to go through nemesis Gabriella Guzman of Edison. The two have linked up four times with Guzman coming away victorious in all. Getting the 165-pound crown will be through her.

“The lat couple of tournaments she has been just a little tougher than Alyssa,” King said of Guzman. “I don’t know what she has been doing for the last three weeks, but I know what Alyssa has been doing. She hasn’t taken a day off, a practice off, a match in practice off; she does her mile-and-a-half run before practice.

“We expect good things, and not only do we expect it, I think she expects it.”