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Pelayo advances to State
Central Valley sophomore Nayeli Pelayo qualified to compete at the CIF State Girls Wrestling Championships. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Nayeli Pelayo made history this past week when she became just the fourth female wrestler from Central Valley High School to qualify for the CIF State Championships.

The sophomore grappler punched her ticket after finishing in the top five in the 189-pound weight class at the Feb. 19-20 Sac-Joaquin Section & Northern Section Masters Tournament in Stockton.

"She's only had one year of wrestling," Hawks head coach Rob Beckhart said. "She's a tough girl. She's super aggressive. She works hard. I'm excited to see what happens."

Pelayo won four of five matches on her way to placing third at Masters.

"She doesn't like to lose," Beckhart said. "She turns into an animal when she wrestles."

Pelayo follows in the footsteps of former Hawk standout wrestlers Rose Moore, Malynda Lomeli and Lexy Cordova.

"She's a natural athlete," Beckhart said. "She's good at whatever she does. I hope it's something she sticks with."

Nayeli improved her overall record to 27-12.

Hawk junior Claudia Martinez (106s, 3-3) placed sixth at Masters for the second year in a row.

She just missed qualifying for State.

"I'm surprised she didn't make it," Beckhart said. "This is the best I've seen her wrestle. She'll get there next year."

Senior Darian Robinson (143s, 1-2), senior Cassandra Justice (150s, 1-2) and freshman Brianna Quiroz (137s, 0-2) did not place.

Central Valley placed 16th in the team standings with 36.5 points.

Tokay (153), Del Oro (133) and Enochs (113) finished first, second and third, respectively.

Ceres High had one representative at Masters in junior Talia Mauricio (150s, 0-2).

Mauricio, a newcomer to the sport, was the Bulldogs' stat keeper last winter.

"The success she had had to be earned," Festa said. "I'm not surprised. She worked hard. I enjoy training athletes that are committed."

The State Championships will be held, Feb. 27-28, at the Visalia Convention Center.