Wrestling Championships

Ridgeview's Elijah Gutierrez, left, wrestles North's Anthony Ornelaz during Kern County Invitational.

Fresh off a second-place finish at the California State Duals last weekend, the North High boys wrestling team will be in action Wednesday as part of a busy week of wrestling in Bakersfield.

The Stars will be hosting the Southeast Yosemite League championships, starting at noon, with the South Yosemite League competing at Independence with a 10 a.m. start. The Southwest Yosemite League tournament is scheduled for Thursday at 10 a.m. at Frontier. Both boys and girls squads are scheduled to be in action in all three events.

“Our team has a lot of confidence heading (into the SEYL tournament),” North boys coach Brady Garner said. “I’ve been telling them all year, we’re good enough, we just gotta believe in ourselves. Now I think they have that belief and you’re going to see us roll in a positive aspect.”

North’s confidence stems from victories over state powers Single Springs-Ponderosa and Benicia in Division IV at Clovis North on Saturday. The Stars lost to Livermore-Granada in the final.

“This weekend I can truly say it was a team effort by everybody,” Garner said. “There were some kids that stood out and had some big wins, but overall the whole team wrestled well. They all had each other’s backs.

“It was really exciting being the last seed going in, and we had the No. 1 seed in the first round and we got it done against a very good team in Ponderosa. “So that was fun and then followed that up with a good win in the semifinals. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the job done in the finals, but that’s part of the learning curve.”

The Stars’ education on the mat will continue Wednesday against another list of talented teams.

“We’re in one of the most competitive leagues,” Garner said. “We have four teams that are really good, that always are fighting for that league title in North, Highland, South and Foothill. And then you also got East and Mira Monte who are on the up and have some really good kids.”

At the opposite end of town, the defending SYL-champion Golden Valley will be in action in what figures to be highly competitive.

“It’s a new year, but I feel we’re still a team to look out for,” said fourth-year Golden Valley girls coach Juan Gamino. “With the league meet, the big thing we’re really focusing on is tying up any loose ends we might have, whether it be cleaning up technique or practicing some of the stuff that we’ve been working on to really prepare for the area matches and state tournament. I believe we’re looking good and we’re looking forward to it.”

Ridgeview figures to be the Bulldogs primary competition from a team standpoint, but Gamino says West, Tehachapi and Independence have a talent that could surprise some people.

The competitiveness from the girls programs continues to grow as the popularity of the sport continues to grow.

“(Girls wrestling) is still on the rise,” Gamino said. “More and more teams are filling up lineups and are having more individual duals. It’s exciting to see because it’s getting to the point where in some dual meets the girls are outshining the guys. It’s nice to see these girls are being showcased as the athletes that they’ve trained to be. That recognition really lifts their actions and gives them motivation to keep competing as hard as we do.”

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