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Wrestling: Two top-eight finishers at CIF girls tournament

By TED SILLANPAA
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Two Empire girls finished in the top eight at the California Interscholastic Federation wrestling tournament at Lemoore on Saturday.

Rancho Cotate’s Vickie Espinoza finished seventh at 189 pounds.

Maria Carrillo’s Randi McMahan finished eighth overall Saturday at 126.

“The top eight in each division were supposed to get a medal, but they changed things up at the last minute,” said Rancho Cotate coach Jacque Davis.

Casa Grande’s Erika Mihalca lost her first match at 126 pounds before finishing the tourney with a 2-2 record.

Espinoza beat Sierra Vista’s Sabrina Valles by pin. After a loss dropped her to the consolation bracket, Espinoza nipped Katie Kraft, of Lincoln, 7-6, in overtime.

“I’m really proud of Vickie doing so well as a freshman,” Davis said. “She beat two seniors who were actually expected to win those matches. She overcame some obstacles and she hasn’t hit her peak yet.”

Pacifica’s Jennifer Sanderson ended Espinoza’s day with a 6-2 defeat.

“This is the first time Vickie’s seen any of these girls, so there was nothing to be intimidated by,” Davis said.

The Empire made a good showing in the 126-pound division with McMahan and Mihalca combining for four wins.

McMahan fell to Kennedy’s Sarah Rodriguez in her opener, then downed Anaheim’s Juliet Villanueva, 4-1. After advancing via injury forfeit, McMahan decisioned Pacheco’s Maria Quiroz, 5-2. Arvin’s Kassandra Castruita defeated McMahan by decision, 7-0, but the Carrillo star still finished in what was initially expected to be a medal position.

Mihalca lost to Rocklin’s Olivia Seppinni to start, but defeated Porterville’s Tasia Lopez, 19-3, in the consolation bracket. She followed with a victory over Brenda Hernandez, from Godinez Fundamental. Salinas standout Rachelle Proa beat Mihalca 10-8 to oust the Casa Grande star.

Ukiah’s Harmonie Roberts drew a first-round bye at 103 pounds, then defeated Covina’s Samantha Diaz to start her day. The Wildcats star, however, lost to eventual champion Gunn’s Cadence Lee to fall into the consolation bracket. She was eliminated in a loss to Magnolia’s Elleni Ortega and wound up 1-2 in state action.

Four Empire wrestlers were defeated in their first two matches of the day. Middletown’s Sierra Egger (103), Rancho Cotate’s Leilani Kuka (154), Middletown’s Jessie Flynn (165) and Petaluma’s Michelle Larsen (189) each lost their first two bouts, although Larsen had earned a first-round bye.

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