The Central Section Girls Wrestling Masters Championship is a grueling two-day event.
It’s made even more nerve-wracking because the section is awarded just two automatic spots to move on to the state championships.
“It’s mission impossible,” Golden Valley head coach Aaron Wherry said. “We’ve got to do better next year and allot more spots for us.”
Wherry’s point is backed up by the fact that just making the finals on Thursday — during the two-day event at Mission Oak High in Tulare that begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. — does not guarantee an automatic state qualification.
In order to advance, the loser in the finals then has to wrestle again for true second place 45 minutes later to be awarded that second spot.
“That’s a tough go that we shouldn’t put any of our athletes through,” Wherry said.
Wherry’s team not only has a handful of state-qualifier candidates, but has three of the 14 top-ranked wrestlers in the section.
“Anything can happen at this big tournament, and that’s what is the best thing about our sport,” Wherry said. “Any kid can be down (14-0) with seconds left and pin the other kid.”
Selma, the two-time defending state champions, has six of the other top-ranked wrestlers heading into Masters, while Bears’ senior Gracie Figueroa is seeking her fourth state title.
But Wherry is excited for another shot at competing once again against the best team in the state.
“We will get caught up at some point,” Wherry said. “We shall see what happens.”
Leading the way for Golden Valley this week is Kayvette Osorio, the top-ranked 189-pounder in the section.
“Girls are scared of her,” Wherry said. “She’s a savage and it’s awesome. She’s being really aggressive this year and going after that win.”
Wherry is excited about the present and future for the junior Osori, who could become a four-time state finalist next year. That would be a first at Golden Valley.
“She would be first athlete in school history to be a four-time state qualifier in any sport,” Wherry said. “That’s super impressive.”
Osorio said her aggression on the mat this season stems from her ability to take all of her life that troubles her into wrestling.
“All the stress that builds up with school work and at home, it builds up and makes me pumped and ready to wrestle and beat up whoever is on the mat,” Osorio said.
Golden Valley senior Avea Lefotu is seeking her second section title in the three years since Wherry began the program heading into her sophomore year. Lefotu won the section title in 2016 before a knee injury kept her out of the state tournament. Last season, Lefotu finished second at 160 pounds.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Wherry said. “It’s been a rough go. But I am glad she’s healthy and ready to go.”
Along with Assata Lewis, the top wrestler at 143, the Bulldogs lead the way for a large Kern County contingent into the championships.
Ridgeview freshman Genesis Quirarte heads into Masters as the top 101-pounds. Frontier freshman Alyssa Valdvivida is the top-seed at 116 as is East freshman Kristen Banalas at 121.