BAKERSFIELD – Lillian Freitas announced to the world she wanted to win. And win big.
That she did. And then some.
Freitas, careful and confident, performed Saturday much like she did the first two days of the CIF State Wrestling Championship. That is to say the Pitman High sophomore who never loses didn’t even entertain the thought.
Her second state title was secured at the 3:24 mark when the referee slapped his hand on the mat. The victim was El Molino’s Hannah Ricioli, the fifth opponent to be pinned by Freitas. Pitman’s favorite daughter shot two fingers skyward to affirm her standing as one of the nation’s best teen-aged wrestlers.
“She is a once-in-a lifetime kid,” Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos said. “She’s wrestled all over the world and all over the country. Every situation, she’s already been in.”
But who can copy such dominance? Freitas, who hasn’t yet lost at the prep level – and who will bet against her the next two years?-- crushed the 150-pound class at Mechanics Bank Arena. She became the fourth girl in the area to go back-to-back, but that fact pales against the canyon-sized gap between her and the rest of the bracket.
The numbers: Five matches, five wins by fall in a time-saving 5:48 and zero points allowed. That’s right: Not even a yielded escape point. Nada.
“I want to be a four-timer (champion),” said Freitas, a member of the USA national team. “I’m just working for the national level and world level. Hopefully, I can place on the world level this year."
Winning high school hardware carries importance to her, too. Soon after she romped to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title last week in Stockton, she revealed her state-meet goal to bring home the event’s Champion of Champions award.
It resulted in her only disappointment. Cheyenne Bowman of Rowland (143) was selected as the girls C of C. For the record, Freitas probably will channel that slight toward future opponents.
The region also was represented on the big stage by Calaveras sophomore Lexy Beadles (111), the school’s first state finalist. Unseeded and unappreciated, she rolled through the bracket until she was beaten in the finals 17-4 by two-time state champion Cristelle Rodriguez of Buchanan.
Earlier in the semifinals, Beadles signaled her official arrival by knocking off former state champion Leah Gaitan of Yucaipa 5-0.
“I knew I wasn’t supposed to win,” said Beadles, who’s wrestled since she was 3. “She (the top-seeded Rodriguez) had everything to lose while I’m someone who wasn’t ranked. …I have some new tricks now.”
Freitas’ opponents will need some new tricks. She started carefully in the final, picked her spots and built a lead. The tempo changed in the second round, however, after Ricioli chose the bottom position. Freitas shot a quick grin toward Vasconcellos, and soon it was over.
“I knew she (Ricioli) would be a little bit better than the other ones,” Freitas said. “My coaches told me not to get too excited.”
Freitas’ final-night points served another purpose. They clinched Pitman’s best-ever third-place finish in the team standings. Buchanan claimed its fifth straight boys title while Oakdale was 14th and Pitman was 16th.
The region’s qualifiers earned 18 medals (top eight), and one of the sweetest was snagged by Sierra senior Alexa Garcia (189). This year’s Masters champion attained major revenge by overtaking Hollie Espinoza of Rancho Cotate 7-5 in overtime for third place.
Garcia, a three-time state qualifier and a No. 3 seed here, was knocked into consolation by Espinoza 6-4 in Friday’s quarterfinals. Three victories later, the Sierra star drew even 5-5 in a rematch vs. Espinoza on a dramatic reversal with 11 seconds left in regulation. She then won it in OT.
The reversal underlined Garcia’s progress. Light for her class this season – she placed sixth in the state at 160 last year – Garcia learned how to scrap against bigger foes.
“The only place I didn’t want to be this year was bottom. The girls are strong and bigger,” Garcia said. “I was expecting first (place), but I’m excited. I have another medal.”
The best finishes by the area boys were fourths by seniors Kendall LaRosa of Pitman (160) and Bret Harte’s Kodiak Stephens (182). Oakdale’s Brayden Abell (113) and Pitman’s Juan Mora (220) placed fifth.
Three Oakdale wrestlers – Michael Torres (106), Ceasar Garza (145) and Seth Borba (152) – all won their final matches for seventh-place medals. Also seventh was Calaveras junior Donivan Giangregorio (195). Turlock’s Adrian Heras forfeited (132) for eighth.
Earning fourths were freshmen Janida Garcia of Lathrop (121) and Lilly Avalos of Pitman (106). Garcia found momentum in the consolation bracket with six straight victories after an opening loss.
Also fourth were seniors Faalia Martinez of Central Catholic (137) and Valerie Osborne of Oakdale (170).
Martinez, top-seeded in her bracket, was beaten by fall in the semifinals by freshman and eventual champion Johanna Forman of Upland.
Turlock senior Hailey Ward (101) lost her final two matches en route to sixth. The four-time Masters champion collected her fourth state medal after a third last year, a fifth in 2018 and an eighth in ’17.
West freshman Kalila Shrive (160) was eighth.
Complete state-meet results are available attrackwrestling.com.