ANAHEIM >> Twenty-three Orange County wrestlers won medals at the finals of the Lady Aztec WrestlingTournament held Saturday at Esperanza High School.
Of those, seven wrestled in the finals.
Two walked off the mat as champions.
Estancia’s Nallely Rivadeneira was in control from the first whistle in a 12-2 victory over Garden Grove’sKellie Bendezu in the 131-pound championship.
A state freestyle champion and Fargo All American, Rivadeneira, a junior, improved to 12-0 with thevictory.
Rivadeneira said training with college wrestlers and getting instruction from college coaches has madeher a better wrestler this season.
“I’m staying tough in my head,” Rivadeneira said. “I’m pushing myself every single second … thinking ifthis is how far I went last time, I’m going to try and take it further.”
Westminster’s Aine Drury, who is ranked No.1 in the CIF Southern Section at 131 pounds, had noproblem wrestling at a higher weight class for the two-day tournament.
Drury came away with a first period pin of Garden Grove’s Fernanda de la Cruz to capture the 137-pound tournament.
Birmingham Community Charter High School of Van Nuys won championships in five weight classes andhad 10 placers, easily winning the tournament with 246 points.
Garden Grove finished second, with 10 wrestlers placing among the eight in their respective weightclasses.
“We train really hard to try to get the best out of our girls,” Argonauts coach Aaron Shahrestani said ofhis team. “To come in here and walk away with a trophy in a pretty tough tournament is rewardingbecause they get to see all the hard work pay off. The girls are pretty tough.”
The next best county team was El Modena, which finished ninth, thanks in part to Abby Jolley’s secondplace finish at 143 pounds.
Jolley, who lost in the finals to Birmingham’s Tiffany Calderon, was among five Vanguards finishingamong the top eight.
“This is a very tough tournament but I feel like we could do a lot better,” Vanguards’ coach AnthonyAlcala said. “I feel like we are not peeking yet and we have league finals and that is where we expect togo and perform well and we expect to be peeking by the time CIF starts in a couple of weeks.”
Anaheim’s Victoria Buchholz finished second at 106 pounds, losing in the finals to Cayden Condit ofJefferson.
Condit went on to earn Lower Weight MVP honors, finishing with four first round pins.
Kameron Sudol of Yorba Linda, a two-time state qualifier, who is ranked third in the Southern Section at121 pounds, lost in the finals, 13-7 against Birmingham’s Katie Gomez.
Athena Willden of Oak Hills (126) was the Middle Weight MVP, finishing with three pins, and ChamiraCooper (160) was named Upper Weight MVP, also finishing with three pins.
The Los Angeles Unified school District teachers strike forced several schools in that district to drop outof the tournament, which was held for the fourth consecutive year.
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