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CVs Pelayo second, Quiroz fourth at Masters tourney
Senior Nayeli Pelayo (pictured left) and junior Brianna Quiroz will represent Central Valleys varsity girls wrestling program at the CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships later this week in Visalia. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Nayeli Pelayo stands alone now as Central Valley's greatest wrestler.

The senior girls grappler made history this past weekend by becoming the school's first three-time state-meet qualifier in any sport.

Pelayo secured a berth to the 2018 CIF State Meet by virtue of her second-place finish in the 189-pound bracket at the Sac-Joaquin Section Northern Masters Championships on Saturday at Stockton's McNair High School.

"When I first met Nayeli, the expectation was to learn how to wrestle," coach Rob Beckhart said. "She came to us as a sophomore with no experience. She was able to compete at a high level right away. She qualified for state. It was amazing."

"I am honestly very surprised at how far I've come in wrestling," Pelayo said. "It's not an easy sport to do. Walking into the room my first year, I didn't expect to win a single match because I was new to the sport. I attribute my success to my family and coaches for pushing me and always believing in me. Without them, I couldn't have gotten as far as I did."

Pelayo compiled a 3-1 record at Masters.

She lost by pin to Oroville's Kristina Wilson in the finals.

Nayeli collected wins against Antelope's Alycia Namosimalua (pin), Del Oro's Emalee Beavers (pin) and Ponderosa's Abyah Fields (pin).

"I felt a lot of pressure competing at Masters this year because I knew that a lot was expected from me," Pelayo said. "Everyone expected me to make it to state again. I didn't want to let anyone down."

Hawk junior Brianna Quiroz joined rare company last week by advancing to state for the first time.

She follows in the footsteps of Pelayo, and former Central Valley grapplers Lexy Cordova, Malynda Lomeli and Rose Moore.

"I'm happy for her," Beckhart said. "I think she surprised herself. It's not easy to get to state. The girls that are going are really good wrestlers."

Quiroz placed fourth while competing in the 150-pound weight division at Masters.

She compiled a 4-2 record.

Brianna collected wins against Bethel's Rachel Rio (injury default), Patterson's Brisa Salas (major decision), Rodriguez's Emily Stiles (pin) and Will C. Wood's Jenna Trausch (decision).

She lost twice by pin to Hiram Johnson's Aniseta Acosta.

Quiroz's sophomore season was cut short at Regionals.

She qualified for Masters her freshman year.

"I definitely exceeded my expectations," Brianna said. "I didn't expect to make it to state my junior year. To be able to push through most of the girls in my bracket felt good. To know that I was at the same talent level boosted my confidence."

Emily Mendoza, Ellena Markham and Natalie Torres also represented the Hawks at Masters.

Mendoza, a senior, won one of her three matches at 121 pounds.

She beat Colfax's Destiny Lang (pin).

Emily lost to Durham's Kai Kenney (pin) and Edison's Maria Valente (pin).

Markham (116s) and Torres (170s) both compiled identical 0-2 records.

Ellena, a junior, lost to Pleasant Grove's Kim Lambert (pin) and Del Oro's Annastasya Culmer (technical fall).

Torres, a freshman, lost to Elk Grove's Sienna Lejeune (pin) and Tokay's Arriana Galvan (pin).

The Hawks totaled 44 points en route to an 11th-place finish in the team standings.

Del Oro (97.50), Tokay (89.5) and Elk Grove (85.0) took first, second and third, respectively.

Hillary Ortega competed for the final time as a member of Ceres High's varsity girls wrestling program last week.

The 150-pound senior posted an 0-2 record at Masters.

She lost to Acosta (pin) and Bethel's Rachel Rio (injury default).

The state tournament will be staged, Feb. 23-24, at the Visalia Convention Center.

Pelayo will look to become Central Valley's first individual medalist.

"She (Nayeli) set a goal for herself and is still trying to accomplish that," Beckhart said.

"My expectation for state this year is to be up on that podium," Nayeli said. "Medaling is my one and only goal. It's not going to be easy. I'm going to have to put in lots of work to achieve my goal."

Quiroz will gain valuable experience.

"It only gets harder from this point," she said. "I just hope that I can still show my skills and show people that CV has good wrestlers."