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Pelayo a quick learner
Nayeli Pelayo

Nayeli Pelayo made a name for herself during her first season with Central Valley High School's varsity girls wrestling team.

Just a sophomore, Pelayo qualified for the CIF State Championships.

"It is surprising because she didn't have any experience," Hawks head coach Rob Beckhart said. "It's going to be pretty scary once she figures out the sport and refines her technique. She just needs to continue to work hard and get better."

Nayeli compiled an 0-2 record while competing in the 189-pound weight bracket at the state meet, staged Feb. 27-28, in Visalia.

"Hopefully, it makes her hungry to get back to that tournament and do well," Beckhart said. "My expectation for her is to place next year."

Pelayo lost by pin to Lakewood freshman Sierra Adams-Gregory and Hillcrest senior Diana Perez.

Perez (third) and Adams-Gregory (sixth) both medaled.
"She wrestled two girls that placed," Beckhart said. "She had a tough draw."

Nayeli became just the fourth female wrestler from Central Valley High School to qualify for the CIF State Championships.

Pelayo punched her ticket to state after winning four of five matches on her way to a third-place finish at the Feb. 19-20 Sac-Joaquin Section & Northern Section Masters Tournament in Stockton.

She took fifth at the Feb. 5-6 Sac-Joaquin Section Southern Regional Qualifier at Enochs High School.

Nayeli placed first twice, second once and fourth once at tournaments during the regular season.

She won titles at Pitman's Rumble in the Jungle and Central Valley's Novice Tournament.

Pelayo posted a 25-11 overall record this year.

"It's a one-on-one sport," Beckhart said. "She seems to respond well to that. She's progressed a lot. She's going to have a reputation of being a state qualifier. She's going to have to live up to that."

It took Pelayo just one season to enter Central Valley's record books. She's already considered one of the Hawks' all-time greatest wrestlers.

Nayeli follows in the footsteps of former Central Valley grapplers Rose Moore, Malynda Lomeli and Lexy Cordova, all of whom qualified for state.

"Her accomplishment put her at that level," Beckhart said. "She's good at everything she does. Our hope is she'll inspire some of the other girls around the school to try it out. There's no reason why she can't be our first wrestler to place at state."