While the postseason for boys’ wrestling is still roughly a month away, the girls will get their time in the spotlight this weekend at the Central Coast Section girls’ wrestling championships at Oak Grove High School Friday and Saturday.
This is the fourth annual CCS tournament for girls and it just keeps growing.
“Right now, it’s a growing sport across the entire state. For this tournament, we have about 40 more entrants than we did last year,” said Duane Morgan, assistant commissioner for CCS. “It’s one those ‘build it and they come’ type of things. It’s taken about four years to get to this level.”
Morgan said 190 female wrestlers from 56 teams are registered to compete this weekend. Of all the schools eligible to wrestle, only seven won’t be represented. By contrast, the boys’ CCS championships will have 404 wrestlers registered, representing 84 schools.
“The girls are getting closer,” Morgan said.
The Peninsula Athletic League will be well represented with 24 wrestlers from nine different schools. Terra Nova, which has finished as runner-up the last two years in the team standings, will bring the largest contingent from the PAL, with eight wrestlers. South City has six wrestlers entered, Sequoia three, Half Moon Bay two, while Aragon, Capuchino, Hillsdale, Menlo-Atherton and Mills have one wrestler each.
Terra Nova has the most returning talent, with three wrestlers placing in the top four at CCS last year. Sophomore Sydnie Thiesen will attempt to repeat as the 189-pound champion. Allison Kretschmer (160), a senior, will look to improve on a third-place finish last season. Another senior, Mallory Moore (121), who finished fourth last season, will look to move up a spot and nab a spot in the state tournament.
The top-three finishers in each weight class qualify for state.
South City, which finished fifth last year, has a couple of contenders in two weight classes. Hiba Salem (101) won a CCS title as a freshman and coach Steve Matteucci believes a repeat is in the cards.
“She’s wrestling her best right now,” Matteucci said. “She’s very hungry for it.”
Matteucci said Salem, whose two older brothers also wrestled for the Warriors under Matteucci, has a bit of unfinished business. After winning the CCS title last season, she won her first match at the state championships and was ahead on points in her second match before breaking her hand.
That girl went on to finish third in state.
“It’s our belief she could have medaled (at state last year),” Matteucci said.
The other wrestler Matteucci has high hopes for is senior Jackie Achermann (150).
“I’m believing she can be a champion as well,” Matteucci said. “She’s been wrestling very tough.”
Other wrestlers who have a chance at a medal include Aragon junior Elisa Han (170) and Hillsdale senior Renata Lopez (137). Both had fourth-place finishes last season.
Matteucci attributes part of the rise in female participation in the sport to it being an officially sanctioned sport by the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body of high school athletics in the state. About a decade ago, there was no sectional or state championships for girls.
“It’s not a fringe sport any more,” Matteucci said. “Now that it’s sanctioned by CCS and the CIF, it’s helped a great deal (in drawing more girls to the sport).”
South City, Terra Nova and Half Moon Bay have consistently fielded competitive women’s teams, which has then increased the number of women involved in the sport. Matteucci said he’s had girls who wrestled for him in high school come back to help coach the next generation.
Also, the stigma associated with wrestling appears to be fading away as more and more girls discover the sport.
“Having (female coaches) helps,” Matteucci said. “I’ve had numerous kinds of girls (come out for the team), not just the big, tough, tomboy girls. I think as far as South City goes, the girls bring their friends. [The newcomers] see it’s not weird or a crazy idea.
“I do promote the idea. Our slogan is, ‘Who is going to be the next champion?’ I leave it open-ended.”
The Peninsula Athletic League will send 24 wrestlers from nine schools to the CCS championships this weekend:
Terra Nova (8) - 2nd in CCS in 2013
Marian Mejia (fr., 106)
Teagan Allen (so., 111)
Katie Filar (so., 116)
Mallory Moore (sr., 121) - 4th CCS 2013
Natalie Ruiz (so., 126)
Yvonne Yip (fr., 131)
Allison Kretschmer (sr., 160) - 3rd CCS 2013
Sydnie Thiesen (so., 189) - CCS champ 2013
South City (6) - 5th in CCS 2013
Hiba Salem (jr., 101) - 2013 CCS champ
Isabel Cervantes (sr., 111)
Marisol Perez (so., 126)
Lourdes Gans (so., 131)
Kristen Cantor (so., 137)
Sheyla Zavala (106)
Kayleen McSweeney (121)
Hannah Dosen (126)
Half Moon Bay (2)
Carmen Zefra (so., 101)
Erika Alazar-Colorado (jr., 116)
Elisa Han (jr., 170) - 4th CCS
Charlene Smith (fr., 101)
Renata Lopez (sr., 137) - 4th CCS 2013
Chelsea Wilson (fr., 101)
Kailee Torres (jr., 111)