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Pelayo qualifies for state
Junior Nayeli Pelayo made history this past week by becoming Central Valleys first two-time CIF State Meet qualifier in girls wrestling. - photo by Courier file photo

Nayeli Pelayo joined a short list last winter, becoming just the fourth female wrestler from Central Valley High School to advance to the CIF Girls State Wrestling Championships.

She followed in the footsteps of former Hawks grapplers Rose Moore, Malynda Lomeli and Lexy Cordova.
Pelayo stands alone now.

The 191-pound junior accomplished a first in program history this past weekend when she earned a return trip to the state meet.

Nayeli qualified by virtue of her top-five finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships, staged Feb. 17-18, at McNair High School in Stockton.

"I've had kids that worked hard for four years," Central Valley coach Rob Beckhart said. "Ninety-nine percent of them don't make it to state. It's not an easy thing to do. It says a lot about her determination to make it happen."

Pelayo (17-5) posted a 3-2 record on her way to a fourth-place showing at Masters.

She beat four of five opponents while finishing third at the 2017 Sac-Joaquin Section South Regional Championships.

Nayeli placed first with a 2-0 mark at the Western Athletic Conference finals on Jan. 27.

She also captured titles at tournaments at Pacheco and Bear Creek.

A newcomer to the sport of wrestling, Pelayo compiled a 25-11 overall record as a sophomore.

Nayeli gained valuable experiencing despite dropping both of her matches at state.

"She continues to amaze me every single day with how she goes out and performs," Beckhart said. "She wrestles hard. She doesn't quit. I'm excited for her. For her to do what she's done in this sport is incredible. She's a two-time state qualifier."

Pelayo's main sport is softball.

Nayeli earned all-Western Athletic Conference honors for her outstanding play in softball her sophomore and freshman years.

The standout catcher ranked second in the WAC in doubles (6), fourth in homers (1), sixth in batting average (.500) and slugging percentage (.781), ninth in on-base percentage (.515), 10th in RBIs (7) and 12th in runs (6) this past spring.

Pelayo also participated in the Paul Leonardo Memorial Western Athletic Conference vs. Central California Conference All-Star Softball Game for the second year in a row.

"She can do any sport," Beckhart said. "We're just lucky she chose wrestling."
The CIF State Meet will be held this Friday and Saturday at the Visalia Convention Center.