SHAFTER — Like most wrestling coaches at this point in the season, Aaron Wherry is tired and worn down from consecutive weekends inside gyms during two-day tournaments all over the state.
Wherry is the head coach for both the boys and girls wrestling programs at Golden Valley.
The Bulldogs’ girls program has steadily risen in numbers, much like the sport has over the years, and once again came out on top during the Kern County Girls Championships at Shafter on Saturday.
Golden Valley had 17 of the 51 medalists in the tournament that had just below 100 total girls wrestlers in the field just four weeks before the CIF State Championships in Visalia.
“Anytime we can showcase any of our kids, any of our students, any of our athletes and they are doing something this awesome,” Wherry said. “We have to take the opportunity for them, no matter where it is. It’s a great opportunity to showcase these ladies.”
Five girls wrestlers in the county are the top-ranked in their weight class in the Central Section, but only one of them, Assata Lewis from Golden Valley, wrestled in the tournament.
Genesis Quirarte (Ridgeview, 101 pounds), Avea Lefotu (Golden Valley, 160) and Kristen Banalas (East, 121) were out because of injury or illness while Kayvette Osorio of Golden Valley did not wrestle because there was not another 189-pounder in the field.
“This highlights how tough our sport it,” Wherry said. “We are out there every single weekend in these tournaments and these girls are out there battling. They have been out there grinding.”
But there was plenty of action on Saturday.
Golden Valley and South both secured three individual titles on the mat.
Lewis beat Elisabeth Vasquez of North, 8-4, for the 137-pound title while Monica Lewis scored a second-round pin over Kaylee Lazano of Centennial in the 150-pound finals and Sareena Bov pinned her Golden Valley teammate, Gemma Mora, in the second round for the title at 111 pounds.
South’s Julissa Chavez won the 235-pound title in interesting fashion.
While in a defensive position on top of Golden Valley’s Macy Bullard as both were on their backs facing the ceiling, Chavez was awarded the victory by fall after she flipped Bullard from the down position for the victory.
Chavez was so shocked that the whistle blew that she said she thought it “was the next match’s whistle, not mine.”
“I did my part,” Chavez said. “As long as I do that, I’m fine.”
Chavez’ teammate, Shareni Donis, was not in as good of a mood after her title at 143 pounds.
Donis, a junior at South, is currently ranked No. 2 in the section at 150 pounds and was the 160-pound section champion last season.
Donis defeated unranked Marian Peres of Ridgeview, 5-1, in a match where Donis was holding on to a 1-0 lead early in the third period before getting a cushion late.
“I didn’t wrestle how I should have wrestled,” Donis said. “It’s not normally how I like my finals matches to go. It can only get better now.”
The section championships are on Feb. 15 at Tulare-Mission Oak with the state finals on Feb. 23-24 at the Visalia Convention Center.
With only two wrestlers from the section guaranteed to advance to the state championships, wrestlers like Donis are gearing up for the final push.
“I wasn’t really in my match,” Donis said. “It was crap and I know it. I have to fix it, now.”
South’s other title was by Camarie Patrick-Boone’s second period pin over Lidiana Nazario of Golden Valley for the 170-pound crown.
Two cousins from Foothill, Ariana Juarez (101) and Kendra Juarez (106) both won titles while Centennial’s Sadie Angel won the 116-pound championship.
Ridgeview’s two titles came in impressive fashion as Jazmin Gutierrez (121) and Jenessa Rodriguez (126) collectively needed 79 seconds on the mat to secure wins by fall.
Shafter’s Elizabeth Ortiz won the 160-pound title in her home gym, while East High junior Cindy Pelayo, the 2016-17 BVarsity Girls Wrestler of the Year, pinned South’s Karla Alvarez in the first period for the 131-pound title.