CIF: No shortage of Metro mat women to take up the challenge
Phillip Brents | Fri, Feb 13 2015 02:48 PM
Wrestling is classified as a coed sport, which means that males and females compete against each other during regular season dual meet competition. The sport remains flexible, however, with gender-specific weekend invitational tournaments and section championships.
This year’s San Diego Section girls wrestling championship tournament will take place Saturday, Feb. 14, at Rancho Buena Vista High School. The tournament also serves as a qualifier for the state championship tournament slated Feb. 27-28 in Visalia.
Several Metro Conference hopefuls are in the chase for state qualifying berths. Among them are eight entrants from Eastlake High School. They include: Alexis Galvadon, Elizabeth Hafen, Nina Rothenhaus, Grace Williams, Isabella Hook, Loraine Tejano, Aliyah McGuire and Venica Dael.
EHS coach Stephanie Matsumoto noted that as many as five Titans have the potential to place at the tournament.
“All other girls are first-year wrestlers,” she said.
Matsumoto has been involved from the start of CIF girls wrestling and remains proud of the progress made at both the local, section and state levels in terms of the increase in participation numbers and quality of competition.
“Girls wrestling has grown tremendously,” Matsumoto said. “There were only two girls on the (Eastlake) team two years ago. Last year, we started with 10 and, due to injuries, we ended with five competing at CIF.
“This year, we started with 15 girls at duplicate weights. We are taking eight to CIF.”
Matsumoto said EHS boys wrestling coach Troy Vierra has been very supportive of the girls wrestlers on the team. “He works the girls just as hard as the boys and has entered them in girls tournaments,” Matsumoto explained.
“I have found the girls to be determined in this sport. We have a young team. I only have three seniors.”
The upsurge in participation numbers at Eastlake High School for girls wrestling is reflective overall of the growth of the sport throughout the section.
Matsumoto noted that approximately 90 girls participated in last year’s San Diego Section championship tournament. There are 132 girls registered for this weekend’s tournament.
“Girls wrestling is one of the fastest growing sports in San Diego,” Matsumoto noted. “There are 30 colleges offering scholarships in the sport of women’s wresting.”
Standouts on the Titans this season include McGuire, a junior 137-pounder with an impressive four first-place finishes in girls invitationals, as well as Tejano, a junior 152-pounder with two first-place, two second-place and one third-place finish in invitational tournaments, and Williams, a sophomore 128-pounder with two first-place and one third-place finish in invitationals.
McGuire, Tejano and Williams are all returning wrestlers.
“The competition is getting a lot better,” EHS assistant coach Tom Williams explained. “The girls are working hard in practice, making a commitment to improve, and it’s showing on the mat.”
With an increase in participation numbers in the San Diego region, success at the state level should follow.
Matsumoto noted that the top competition in California is currently concentrated in the Orange County and Covina areas.
“The quality of completion here is getting better and better,” Matsumoto said. “I have had more interest not only at Eastlake, but also in other schools.
“The state brackets are as large as the boys. Unfortunately, only two girls will qualify from San Diego Section.”