BAKERSFIELD – The CIF State Wrestling Championships, like all high-level athletics, present mass quantities of disappointment and elation.
And the difference between the two can be, well, a virtual coin flip.
Sixteen wrestlers from the region entered the quarterfinals Friday. Only three have reached the semifinals, while seven were sent to consolation by a takedown or less.
“That’s what decides it here,” Oakdale coach Steve Strange, a former two-time state champion who figured out those tiny margins long ago. “Who makes the mistake? Who steps up?”
Three talented girls have figured it out as the three-day meet steams toward its conclusion. Pitman sophomore Lilly Freitas (150), Central Catholic senior Faalia Martinez (137) and Calaveras sophomore Lexy Beadles (111) have qualified for the semifinals and are one win away from competing on the raised stage Saturday night at Mechanics Bank Arena.
Freitas, stillu nbeaten at the prep level, seems to be strengthening round by round. She stepped onto the mat with purpose and dispatched fellow quarterfinalist Desiree Fuentes of San Fernando in 19 seconds. Freitas is not wasting time. She’s needed only 1:22 to finish three matches.
“She’s ready. She wants it,” Pitman coach Adam Vasconcellos praised. “When she’s moving her legs, there’s nobody who can beat her.”
Martinez, also top-seeded in her bracket, was extended by Pitman freshman Alana Ontiveros before she prevailed 4-2. Martinez has won twice by decision and the other by fall.
Beadles, unseeded and undaunted by her name misspelled on the bracket sheets this week, upset No. 3 seed Adrienna Turner of Davis-Yolo 3-2. Turner won the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title last week while Beadles placed third.
Conversely, the area boys were blanked in the quarterfinals. Four Oakdale Mustangs went down, including No. 3-seeded Michael Torres 3-2 to No. 6 Dominic Mendez of Righetti. A third-round takedown was the difference.
“Michael (106) had a winnable match,” Strange said. “The guys we got beat by were better for the most part, except Torres.”
Pitman also felt the state-meet sting with three tough losses in the quarterfinals, two by seniors Izzy Tubera (120) and Juan Mora (220). Tubera led 2019 state champion Tristan Lujan of Selma going into the third round, but a hotly-disputed penalty point and a takedown in the final seconds sealed a bitter 3-1 loss.
“It (the penalty point) changed the whole tone of the match,”Vasconcellos said. “These kids work too hard, and it’s their last shot at something.”
Mora, also a senior, gave up points in the closing round of a 4-3 loss to Brandon Leon of Roosevelt (Southern Section).
Bret Harte senior Kodiak Stephens (182) felt a similar fate in a 2-1 loss to Javen Jovero of Rancho Bernardo.
Fifty-six from the area made it here, but only 19 are still competing for medals (top eight). All emotions, and perhaps a few tears – both the happy and sad types – will be be shed Saturday.