SELMA – The expectations of the Selma girls wrestling team couldn't be higher.
Not only does Bears head coach Andy Munoz want the team to win a third straight team title, but he wants them to do it by scoring the most points in state history at the state tournament.
“The way it looks on paper,” Munoz said. “This could be the strongest team we've put together.”
The pedigree of his roster could prove him right.
Selma, the two-time defending state champions, return three multi-time individual state champions as well as a deep roster that could go down as the best team in state girls wrestling history.
That has Munoz excited for the Bears, who have quickly become the program all others are compared to in the state.
With girls wrestling becoming an official sport in recent years, the Bears' youth program has helped the team win the past two California Interscholastic Federation state titles. The team has also won four straight Central Section titles.
Munoz sees the sport is continuing to grow with schools in the Central Section starting to have more participants.
“It's growing,” Munoz said. “We're ahead of it and it's hard for people to catch up. We've been lucky where we've had the support of the school and community others don't have yet.”
Part of that Munoz said is having a coaching staff that focuses on the female wrestlers instead of having just a few girls on the boy's team that would usually wrestle in boys JV tournaments.
Munoz said he's been averaging around 15 girls per year and expects 16 on the team.
Of the 14 weight classes, he said the team should be able to fill 13 of them. All those bodies could mean more points in important matches like the Central Section Masters and the state tournament.
Leading the way will be three-time defending individual state champions Gracie Figueroa and Alleida Martinez.
Not only will Figueroa and Alleida look to add their names to a short list of just two girls that have won four state girls wrestling titles, the pair will look to start a list of their own – four-time undefeated state champions. That has never been done before in state history and Selma could have two girls do it this year.
Through their first three years, neither of the pair have yet to lose a high school match. Figueroa is 106-0 after going 40-0 last year, including a 5-0 run in the state tournament with five pins. Martinez is 72-0 for her career.
“We want to get them through undefeated,” Munoz said. “It's to the point where both of them are asking what they want from colleges and if they're not offering full rides, they're not going there.”
Also returning to the team is junior Jerzie Estrada. Estrada won a state individual title as a freshman before transferring to a school in Colorado for her sophomore year, where she won a title there as well.
This year, she moved back to Selma due to her parents' job situation.
The team also returns four other girls that were state qualifiers; sophomore Melanie Mendoza (fifth in the state), junior Chelsy Mendoza (0-2 at state), junior Marjiah Morales (two-time state placer, sixth in 2016, fourth in 2017) and Makayla Balladeros (0-2 at state).
“We have depth and we have girls that will have a chance to medal that didn't last year,” Munoz said. “Some schools are happy to just have a state qualifier. We're past that. Not only do we want to win the state title, but we want to do it by the most points ever.”