Garcia, Gould, Pugrad take CIF titles


EASTVALE – Gabby Garcia had a simple goal entering this season.

The senior from Valencia said she wanted to improve in all aspects of the sport of wrestling, both on the mat and off.

Garcia, the top-ranked wrestler at 126 pounds in the state, won four matches by fall on her way to winning a CIF title at Roosevelt High in the CIF-SS Girls Individual Championships.

She was selected Lower Weight MVP of the tournament.

“I’m happy with my performance,” she said. “The past two years, I was having a pretty tough time and I think a lot of it came from cutting weight. As the years went by, I’ve grown to be more on top and strict about what I’m doing.

“Wrestling is a big mental game. You have to be mentally prepared for cutting weight, the changing of eating habits, the training and the matches.”

The new level of comfort has certainly been on display the previous two weeks. At last week’s regional qualifier, Garcia won all four of her matches by fall.

Three of Garcia’s victories came in the first period. In the finals against Nicole Joseph of Camarillo, the end came at 3:29. Garcia was up 6-0 at the time.

Garcia won her first state title at 108 a freshman. She followed that with titles at 121 (sophomore) and last year at 126.

She will attempt to cap her high school career by winning a fourth state title when the CIF State Tournament begins Feb. 26 at the Visalia Convention Center. Alyssa LaFrancis (2012-15) is the only other female wrestler to accomplish that feat.

It has only happened once in boys wrestling. Darrell Vasquez did it for Bakersfield in 1999-2002.

“It has never been on mind,” she said. “This year, my goal was to be more focused on my improvement and at least stay undefeated this year.

“Every year I would lose at least one match. This year, my goal was to be undefeated.”

Garcia will head to the state tournament with a record of 29-0

Canyon’s Aleeah Gould (106) and Kennedy’s Miyuki Pugrad (131) also finished first at their weights.

Gould, who won a CIF title last year and finished second at the state tournament, won three matches by fall and one by technical fall.

Pugrad won four matches by fall on her way to the title. Pugrad also finished second at last year’s state tournament.

Santa Ana led all county teams with three state qualifiers – Casandra Parra, 121; Josahandy Moreno, 131 and Claribel Estrada, 170.

Aliso Niguel’s Maria Alvarez finished third at 111 pounds. Alvarez will be making her second consecutive trip to the state tournament. Last year, she qualified at 106 pounds.

Alvarez defeated Newport Harbor’s Nicole Datt in the consolation semifinals. Datt, who is the first state qualifier for Newport Harbor, had won five consecutive matches in the consolation bracket to qualify for the state tournament. She eventually finished sixth.

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