Big Valley Christian sophomore Briggs Alavezos, a Fuddruckers Wrestler of the Match award winner, is pictured next to coach Matt Ippolito. Together, they helped Big Valley to its first-ever Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI team dual title.

Girls with game: 3 highlight this week's California Wrestler rankings

Ron Agostini

California’s high school female wrestlers, much like their male counterparts, have sped into the important postseason meets.

The girls’ ultimate destination, in fact, brings them their largest-ever platform. The girls will be merged with the boys for the first time at the CIF Wrestling Championships on Feb. 21-23 at Bakersfield’s Rabobank Arena.

This week’s state rankings, released by The California Wrestler, reveal three highly-ranked girls in the area. Turlock’s Hailey Ward (101), Pitman’s Lilly Freitas (143) and Buhach Colony’s Alejandra Gonzalez all are ranked fourth in the state in their respective weight classes.

The cream also rises in the boys division. Oakdale tandem Brayden Abell (106) and Gabe Martinez (170) , state finalists in 2018, are ranked first in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Abell, a sophomore who didn’t even allow a point during his march to the title at the California Invitational Tournament two weeks ago in Morro Bay, is ranked third in the state while Martinez is eighth.

Abell and Martinez anchored Oakdale’s impressive roll to its 13th straight Section Team Dual title last weekend in Stockton. Sophomore Henry Porter (132), fourth in the state, and Abell have created a delightful if awkward problem for coach Steve Strange.

Oakdale’s talented freshmen Michael Torres (106) and Ceaser Garza (132) will be forced into the next weight class in deference to Abell and Porter. Such is the depth of the Mustangs, ranked 10th in state team rankings by TCW.

Also ranked first in the section are Pitman trio Turlock’s Izzy Tubera (120), Sammy Silveria (145) and Kendall LaRosa (152), and Elliott Houghton of Calaveras (195). Turlock senior heavyweight Michael Jeffus is ranked third in the state

This week’s league tournaments, which serve as qualifiers for the section divisionals, also will lock  wrestlers into weight classes for the rest of the postseason.

The league tournament lineup: Central California Athletic League on Saturday at Pitman, the Central California Conference on Thursday at Merced, the Valley Oak League on Saturday at Oakdale, the Trans-Valley League on Saturday at Hughson, the Western Athletic Conference on Saturday at Beyer, and the Southern Athletic League on Saturday at Waterford.

Fuddruckers Award

Big Valley Christian sophomore Briggs Alavezos (138) used an over-under throw, wrestling’s signature blend of technique and brute force, to pin Mariposa senior Bryce Norris in less than a minute at the Section Team Dual Tournament last weekend at Lincoln. Alavezos pumped his fist and gestured toward his inspired teammates as the Lions went on to beat the Grizzlies for the first time and annex the Division 6 title.

Alavezos was named the Wrestler of the Meet by and received a $15 certificate from Fuddruckers.