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OCVARSITY.COM FILE PHOTO
Santa Ana's Berenice Blanco poses wearing the medal she won at the 2012 state meet.

Girls state meet, boys Masters meet start Friday

OCVARSITY.COM

There is a trend spreading across the county wrestling scene.

Girls, like Valencia's Gaby Garcia and Santa Ana's Berenice Blanco, are hitting the mats just like their boy counterparts. There are 31 county wrestlers participating at this weekend's CIF State girls wrestling championships at Lemoore High. This is the third year for the girls state tournament.

Garcia, a freshman, is the top seed at 110pounds. Blanco (126) is a defending state champion.

"It was a dream I had ever since I heard about Lizette Tenorio being a state champion for Santa Ana," Blanco said. "Lizette has a banner of her accomplishments up on the wall in the wrestling room, and seeing that everyday inspired me to train hard and become a state champion.

"So it means a great deal to me. ... I reached my goal, and few people in the sport ever see their dreams come true."

Wrestling has been in the family for both girls, their brothers having competed.

"I like the community of the sport," Garcia said. "You get to meet new people, you get to go on trips and see the world.

"I fell in love with the sport just rolling around with the boys, showing that just because it is a guy's sport doesn't mean that it isn't a girls sport too."

Girls are able to wrestle with the boys wrestling team up until the postseason. The CIF-SS Southern Section tournament was Feb. 8-9 at Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley.

During the season, there are several all-girls tournaments in the Southern Section, including tournaments hosted by Santa Ana, West Covina, Buena Park, Western and Charter Oak of Covina.

"I think more girls should join the sport because it teaches you life lessons, not just sports," Garcia said. "It gives you more discipline for school."

Garcia started wrestling at 6.

"Her confidence level keeps going up," Valencia assistant coach David Quintero said. "Getting the aggressive style out of them is a little bit of a chore, but once they get it, they're almost more coachable than the boys."

Valencia has four girls in the program. Santa Ana has 20. Western is up to 12. Savanna has 11. Savanna's Kaylee Chevez is the top seed at 98 pounds.

Returning medalists Fanny Giron (Anaheim, 105), Crystal Zamarripa (Loara, 120) and Selena Arredondo (Western, 237) are also heading back to state.

The boys will be competing this weekend in the CIF-SS Masters Meet at Temecula Valley High. The top nine wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the CIF State Tournament on March 1-2 in Bakersfield.

Contact the writer: dcalhoun@ocregister.com


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