SELMA — In a night when seniors on the Selma boys and girls wrestling teams were honored, both squads were victorious in their home dual matches on Jan. 24.
The boys dominated rival Kingsburg 63-9 and the girls defeated Golden Valley High School 48-31.
Every Selma senior was honored in a ceremony before the dual matches began and the majority have wrestled with each other since they were 6.
Joey Areyano - the head coach pf the girls squad - has coached all the seniors since they were in the Selma youth program. Areyano was also honored by the seniors during the ceremony before the dual match.
“I’ve been with those kids since they were little,” Areyano said. “It’s bitter sweet. I’m going to miss them when they leave and go to wrestle at the next level.”
The seniors in the Selma High School wrestling program include Gracie Figueroa, Alledia Martinez, Robert Areyano, Luis Ramos, John Ramos, Tony Mendoza, Isaiah Jimenez and Oscar Diaz.
Areyano, Luis Ramos, Mendoza, Jimenez and Diaz were all victorious against Kingsburg.
“It’s hard to let them go, but you see the smiles on their faces,” Areyano said. “You see smiles on the parents' faces, you see some of them going on to college on scholarship and it was all worth it.”
Figueroa and Martinez have verbally committed to Menlo College – a private four-year institution in the Silicon Valley town of Atherton – and will compete on the girls wrestling team on a scholarship.
Martinez was victorious against Golden Valley’s Gemma Mora and won by pinfall in the first round in the 111-pound match.
Figueroa was held out because of dehydration and was not able to wrestle, Areyano said.
The girls duel started out with four straight wins from the Bears including pins by Merijah Morales, Martinez, Melanie Mendoza, Cristiana Wallace. After forfeiting the 126-pound contest (the match Figueroa was slated to compete), Selma had a commanding 36-6 lead. Pinfalls by Jerzie Estrada and Chelsy Mendoza sealed the deal for the Bears.
Over the weekend, the girls competed in the Central Valley Girls Invitational at Golden West High School and will start the postseason tournaments in February. The girls squad will compete in the California Interscholastic Federation Girls Central Section Masters tournament on Feb. 14-15. The team is aiming for a third-straight state title.
As for the boys, Selma had a narrow 15-9 after Jett Jackson of Kingsburg defeated John Sosa 5-2 in the 132-pound match. Jackson’s win would be the final time the Vikings scored any points, as the Bears won eight straight matches to end the dual.
It was the first dual match loss for Kingsburg, as the squad is 3-1 this season.
Vikings’ head coach Bryce Hammond thought his guys put up a great effort even though the team lost.
“We were wrestling one of the best teams in the state,” Hammond said. “In most weights you’re wrestling a guy ranked somewhere from one through eight, our guys are not and they came out and fought.”
Sam Lopez, the head coach for the boys team in Selma, said the Kingsburg program is moving in the right direction under Hammond.
“Kingsburg is coming up,” Lopez said. “It’s good for wrestling and it’s good for our league. Bryce is a great guy over at Kingsburg, so he’s doing a great job over there.”
Lopez said “it’ll be great” to revive the wrestling rivalry and Hammond thinks his squad could get to the level of the wrestling program at Selma in the near future.
“Right now to be a rivalry, you have to be competitive and we’re not,” Hammond said. “Hopefully in two to three years it’s a rivalry …we’re not there yet but I hope to make it there.”
Kingsburg competes in a road dual match with Dinuba on Thursday, Feb. 1, and hosts the Central Sequoia League tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10.
After the Vikings defeated Exeter 37-30 on Jan. 18, Hammond thought the team should’ve competed better and said he “chewed” them out at practice the following day.
“I think that was kind of a turning point,” Hammond said. “I think they realized ‘shoot, I've got to focus,’ and I think five to seven guys in the state tournament is the goal and it's doable. I think top 25 [in the state] is doable.”
For Selma, the final two weeks of the regular season for the boys team includes a road dual match with Exeter on Wednesday, Jan. 31, and the CSL tournament in Kingsburg.
With some wrestlers held out in the dual against Dinuba on Jan. 17, Lopez said the team is getting healthy at the right time.
“Now, we’re at a point where we are not in healing mode anymore,” Lopez said. “We’re going to start pushing a little more to get our bodies ready for the postseason.”
The Bears are aiming for a state title in March after finishing in fourth place in last year’s CIF state tournament.