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Three CV’s girls wrestlers qualify for CIF State Meet
Brianna Espinoza, Alicia Espinoza and Giana Breshears
Central Valley girls standout wrestlers Brianna Espinoza, Alicia Espinoza and Giana Breshears qualified for the CIF State Meet this past week. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Central Valley’s girls wrestling team will be sending a program-record three grapplers to the CIF State Meet.

The Espinoza sisters, Brianna and Alicia, and Giana Breshears secured individual berths after finishing in the top six in their respective weight divisions at the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Championships this past week at Stockton Arena.

Breshears and Brianna Espinoza earned state berths during the first day of Masters, while Espinoza punched her ticket the second day. Breshears and Brianna Espinoza will both be making a return trip to Bakersfield.

“I think it’s pretty amazing and pretty cool that our program is sending three of us to state,” Brianna Espinoza said. “Our coaches coach well and it shows.”

“It’s definitely a good feeling seeing all of us being state-qualifiers,” Alicia Espinoza said. “They’re both really hard workers. I started to work harder because I wanted to go to state.”

“I’m not surprised we made it,” Breshears said. “It shows that me, Bri and Alicia put in the work. We earned it.”

Junior Brianna Espinoza took second with a 3-1 record at 235 pounds.

She beat Union Mine’s Grace Jacobson (pin, 1:12), Buhach Colony’s Joana Lopez-Padilla (pin, 0:51) and River Valley’s Talia Katzenberger (pin, 1:22).

Brianna Espinoza lost to Rocklin’s Gemma Templeman (pin, 1:55).

“I’m proud of myself for getting over the nerves,” she said. “Now that I’ve been to state, I hope that I’m able to wrestle better.”

Sophomore Alicia Espinoza took fourth with a 4-2 record at 170 pounds.

She just missed securing a state berth as a freshman.

“Last year, I was close,” she said. “I didn’t punch my ticket. This year, I did. I’m really happy. That was my biggest goal this entire year.”

She beat Cosumnes Oaks’ Grace Stevenson-White (pin, 0:34), El Camino’s Ashley Bainivallu-Bola (pin, 0:34), Del Oro’s Ava Beidler (pin, 0:39) and Tokay’s Maliah Gomez (pin, 0:58).

She dropped a pair of matches to Rio Vista’s Chloe Goddard.

Goddard prevailed twice by pin (3:23, 2:20).

“I’m so proud of Alicia,” Brianna said. “She works so hard in and out of the room, has a strong mind, and a good heart. She’s a humble wrestler though, and takes every loss as a learning opportunity. She deserves to go to state, and now that we are able to share the experience, it’s a great feeling and a comfort level.”

“We’re so proud of her,” Breshears said. “I’m not shocked she made it. Alicia should have gone last year. She was so close.”

“I let go of my fear,” Alicia Espinoza said. “I just wrestled. I started believing in myself more. I worked harder.”

Alicia matched what older sister Brianna did by qualifying for state as a sophomore.

“It’s not competition,” Alicia said. “She’s definitely been a positive influence. She’s one of the hardest workers I know. She’s there when I need her. We push each other.”

Breshears, a sophomore, took fifth with a 3-2 record at 140 pounds.

“There was so much pressure on me,” she said. “Everybody at school kept asking if I was going to go to state. I care about what everybody else thinks. But I don’t think that’s a good thing. I’m just excited and relieved I made it.”

Breshears won twice versus Center’s Maya Reed.

She prevailed by decision (9-5) and pin (2:22).

She also won by pin (4:52) versus Pleasant Grove’s Josephine Infante.

She lost to Bella Vista’s Gianna DiBenedetto (pin, 3:17) and Pitman’s Lindsey Carolan (decision, 4-2).

Breshears earned her second straight state berth by beating Infante and Reed during the first day of Masters.

She executed at a high level.

“When I have a big tournament or I’m stressed, I put my headphones on and listen to music,” Breshears said. “I stay away from everybody. I think about how I’m going to wrestle during my matches.”

The CIF State Meet will be staged, Feb. 22-24, at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield.

“I did bad at state last year,” Breshears stated. “It was a new environment. I was nervous. I’m going to try to win matches and place. Mentally and physically, I’m going to be more prepared.”

“My expectations for myself are to perform better,” Brianna Espinoza stated.

“I expected to go to state this year,” Alicia Espinoza added. “Now that I’m going, I’m nervous and excited. I want to win. If I don’t, my goal is to learn from matches.”