Three from Sonoma County finish first at Brentwood tournament

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rancho Cotate’s Kayla Aggio already has one state title to her credit and if she continues to wrestle like she did Wednesday at the Lou Bronzan Invitational in Brentwood, she’ll add more gold to her collection in 2011.

Aggio was one of three Sonoma County wrestlers to take first place at the 24-team tournament. Windsor’s Andres Torres captured the 119-pound division while Casa Grande’s Jack Fausone dominated in the 145-pound class.

Aggio wrestled in the girls 146-pound division on Wednesday, pinning her first opponent and then winning a semifinal match on points, 9-3, and the championship, 6-2.

Last year as a sophomore, Aggio captured the state 134-pound division.

At 11-0 this year, Aggio is already looking beyond another California title.

“My goal this year is to win nationals,” Aggio said. “That’s early February in Oklahoma City.”

With only four teammates on the Cougars’ girls team, Aggio practices against the boys.

“The guys don’t hold back at practice and I think that’s the reason I’ve gotten to be so dominant when I go up against girls,” Aggio said. “I’ve learned a lot from the guys, especially about the technical side of wrestling.”

Ryan Lunsford, in his first year as Rancho’s head coach, is Aggio’s biggest fan.

“It’s incredible what she can do on a mat,” Lunsford said. “She’s so strong and powerful, I give her a great chance to win State and then nationals.”

Lunsford’s father, Ron, coached for 28 years before turning over the reins to his son.

Aggio decided to wrestle in a higher weight class this year, basically for stronger competition.

“I never wrestled another girl at 134 that was close to being as strong as I am,” Aggio said. “At 146, the girls have more strength and I’m having to rely on my technique more. This will prepare me for nationals, where I’ll come up against wrestlers that are as strong as I am.”

Aggio hasn’t decided whether she wouldtry nationals at 146 or 134.

She can thank her brother, Julian, for introducing her to the sport.

“He wrestled for Rancho and graduated in 2007,” Kayla said. “We used to play around wrestling at home and (he) taught me. I seemed to be pretty good at it and decided to do it once I got to high school.”

Paige Steieing of Casa Grande also medaled. She finished second in the 165-pound division.

On the boys side, Torres barely worked up a sweat, going 5-0 and winning the championship match, 16-0.

Fausone also won five matches on his way to the title.

In the team standings, Rancho finished sixth with 123 points. Windsor took 10th with 100.5. Casa Grande finished 15th with 89. Host Liberty took the title with 220.5.

“It was a strong showing for Sonoma County,” Lunsford said. “There were good teams from the Central and Southern sections there and our wrestlers were right there in almost every class.”

Fourteen wrestlers from the Empire finished eighth or better.

The NBL and SCL seasons begin the first week of January.