VISALIA — It was a night to remember for Selma’s Gracie Figueroa and Alleida Martinez, who both made history by finishing their prep careers as undefeated four-time state wrestling champions at the Visalia Convention Center on Feb. 24.
The two Bears seniors who are also known as the “dynamic duo” are the first two female wrestlers to win four state titles with an undefeated high school record. Both Figueroa and Martinez will move on to the next level and wrestle for Menlo College next season.
Since the 2011 inception of the California Interscholastic Federation State Girls Wrestling tournament, Figueroa and Martinez are the third and fourth competitors to claim four state titles. They are also two of six female wrestlers to win state titles as freshmen since 2011. Their teammate Jerzie Estrada - a junior - is part of that group as well. Estrada claimed her second CIF State title in the 150-pound weight class at the tournament this year.
As for Martinez, she pinned Mt. Whitney’s Ashley Venegas in the 111-pound finals with a pin time of 1 minute and 56 seconds.
After her match was over, Martinez said it was “amazing” to finish as an undefeated four-time state champ, but it was also bittersweet wrestling in her final high school match.
“I’m kind of sad high school [competition] is over with,” the senior said, “because this is my last match.”
Martinez said it was a “big relief” to win her fourth state title. She ends her high school wrestling career with a 24-0 senior campaign. Overall, Martinez has a 96-0 career record.
Figueroa, who wrestled in the final match of the night defeated Corona’s Caitlin Cardenas in the 121-pound title bout in a 9-0 decision.
The senior said it “feels great” that her and Martinez are the only competitors in California to finish high school competition as undefeated four-time state champions. It was also a bittersweet moment for Figueroa after her win in the finals.
“The emotions, I just try to hold them in until after everything,” Figueroa said. “Right there [after the match] I kind of wanted to cry because I’m not going to be a Selma Bear anymore. This is my last time.”
Figueroa ends her senior campaign with a 33-0 record. Throughout her career, she stands at 139-0 overall.
Coming into the tournament, both Figueroa and Martinez were the No. 1 nationally ranked wrestlers in their weight class.
Joey Areyano - one of the squad’s co-head coaches - said he was happy to be a part of coaching and witnessing the high school careers of the two seniors.
“We were just blessed with two special girls,” Areyano said. “After them, these other girls are following right behind them… it’s something that’s just special.”
Co-head coach Andy Munoz said Figueroa and Martinez will be hard to replace next season, but he said the team should have returning talent - including Estrada - next season.
“I’m so blessed that not only I have one, but I have two [undefeated wrestlers] in my program,” Munoz said. “They were well developed when they first came in the high school program, so I just have to thank the youth program for developing them.”
Notable returners next season will be Chelsy Mendoza, Melanie Mendoza and Merijah Morales. At the state tournament, Chelsy Mendoza (101 pounds) and Morales (106) took sixth-place in their weight classes while Melanie Mendoza was fourth at 116 pounds.
As for Estrada, she won in an 8-0 victory over Gregori’s Liliana Garcia in the 150-pound finals.
Estrada is a two-time California state champ, but has won three overall titles. She won her second state title at Douglas County High School in Colorado last season as a sophomore.
Previously, Estrada defeated Garcia this season at The True Wrestler Napa Valley Invitational that took place on Jan. 5-6.
“Before the match I wasn’t that nervous because I already wrestled her at Napa,” Estrada said. “So I can kind already had it on my mind that I was going to win.”
Coming into the tournament, Estrada was nationally ranked No. 5 in the 152-pound weight class, according to FloWrestling. The junior finishes the season undefeated with a 29-0 record.
As a team, the Selma girls claim their third-straight CIF State wrestling title with 142 points. The Bears finished in first-place with a 57 point margin of victory. Second-place Brentwood High School finished with 80 points.
Selma is the only squad to win three state titles in the tournament’s history.
With Estrada, Morales and the two Mendoza wrestlers returning, Munoz believes they will have the talent to contend for a fourth-straight state title.
“The program is always building every year,” he said. “I feel like we’re going to be in contention for the next couple of seasons.”