SELMA - In a ceremony in front of family, friends, teammates and coaches, Selma High School athletes Rob Areyano, Tony Mendoza, Xavier Moran and Aly Cerda each signed a national letter of intent to the college of their choice in a ceremony on April 30.
Areyano, Mendoza and Moran were part of the wrestling team at Selma and each of them will attend school outside of California. Areyano will take his talents to NCAA Division III institution Central College in Pella, Iowa. Mendoza will go the junior college route, but will wrestle in the same state, joining the team at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City, Iowa. As for Moran, he will be wrestling for Bacone College, which is a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics institution in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
All three of the wrestlers were ranked in the top 10 of their weight classes in the state at the end of the season. They also decided to attend college outside of California to explore life outside of the state and the Central Valley.
Areyano finished the season ranked No. 6 in the 132-pound weight class, Mendoza was the No. 2 wrestler at 145 pounds and Moran was No. 8 in the 285 division in the state.
Cerda - the starting catcher for the Bears softball team - is the only athlete out of the four staying in California, but will make the move to the Bay Area. She will receive pitches at Holy Names University in Oakland, which is a NCAA Division II program that competes in the PacWest Conference.
The proximity of the Bay Area and a roster that includes four players from the Central Valley were factors in Cerda attending there. She said she played softball with some of them in the past
“It’s definitely more comfortable because I know them,” Cerda said. “To just have that comfort like I’m not home, but I’m home.”
Oakland has a larger population than the other cities her peers will move to, but the university has an enrollment of 1,300, which is approximately 400 less than Selma High School. Cerda said the small population of the school will make it an easy transition.
“It’s a lot more intimate and close together,” Cerda said. “Everybody that goes there knows everybody.”
Selma softball head coach Amber Green recalled when she had seen Cerda play during her freshman year when Green was a coaching assistant.
“Now all I see is so much growth from freshman year to her senior year,” Green said. “Not that she wasn’t mature enough the first year, but now as a senior captain and a real leader on our team, she’s just blossomed as a person, as a player and I'm very confident in her going on.”
Cerda has been on the softball varsity team since her freshman year and was part of last year's CIF Central Section Division IV squad. She has also played in three-straight Valley title games.
Areyano’s interest in the Central College was a variety of things including the program’s success in recent years and the environment of wrestling in Iowa.
“That state is all about wrestling,” Areyano said. “Every dual is going to be packed, so I’m looking forward to that environment and just being able to wrestling in front of that crowd that loves wrestling.”
The support of wrestling in the state of Iowa was a factor for Mendoza as well.
“When I went on a visit to Iowa State, they said that the wrestlers are like superstars,” Mendoza said. “They get all the recognition, so that’s pretty awesome.”
Areyano’s other options included Life Pacific College - in San Dimas - and California State University, Bakersfield.
As for Mendoza, he originally wanted to attend Iowa State, but decided to pursue the junior college route to take general education classes. He does plan to transfer to wrestle for the Cyclones in Iowa State.
He said Fresno State Bulldogs had interest in him, but scheduling conflicts during the season kept Mendoza from visiting the campus.
For Moran, Bacone College was interest in the Kingsburg transfer since his junior year when he was wrestling for the Vikings.
When the coaching staff of the Warriors’ wrestling team kept in contact with him, that made Moran felt he was wanted there.
“The coach was eager and he wants me to be on the team,” Moran said. “They won the NAIA Nationals in 2016, then this current year they only lost by a couple of points because they were missing a heavyweight.”
Other options for Moran were Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa; Midlands University in Omaha, Nebraska; and Northwestern Kansas Technical College in Goodland, Kansas.
Moran is eager to begin wrestling in the next level.
“I’m looking for competition,” Moran said. “I’m ready to wrestle and I just want to go out there and represent my last name and Selma too.”
Bears wrestling co-head coach and Rob’s father Joey Areyano said the process for the trio of wrestlers to get an opportunity to wrestle in college has been a “grind.”
“For these kids to have done it, it’s a great accomplishment,” Joey Areyano said. “We’re really proud of them, it’s a lot of work. Even after the day is over, you still have to go to practice, after that they still have to go workout and go for another run and keep their weight down...and do their homework. It’s a tough thing.”