Reminders of the goal are scattered all around Alexis “Crush” Garcia’s house. On the refrigerator in the kitchen, in the bathroom and on her bedroom door are small pieces of paper reading “Crush Garcia Undefeated State Champion.”
“I see them every day when I wake up and when I go to bed,” said Garcia, a senior wrestler at Nipomo High School and the No. 1-ranked girls heavyweight in the state with a 33-0 record this season. “This is where I actually accomplish the thing that I have been seeing on my walls the whole season.”
Garcia and Nipomo girls wrestling coach Justin Magdaleno traveled Thursday afternoon to the Visalia for the CIF State Finals to try and make that goal a reality. Garcia enters the tournament at the Visalia Convention Center coming off a dominant performance two weeks ago at the CIF-Southern Section Championships at Roosevelt High School in Corona with four pins in five matches to win her division.
Garcia finished runner-up at last season’s sectional and went 2-2 at the state meet to finish in the top 12. But her experience hasn’t calmed her nerves heading into the finals, which begins on Friday.
“Every tournament, I get the same type of nervousness, but it’s good. I have learned to channel it,” she said.
The top-seeded Garcia didn’t receive a bye like eight other wrestlers in the 32-person, 235-pound bracket. Garcia said she usually enjoys the rest in the first round but is looking forward to getting on the mat, even though she hasn’t looked at the bracket.
“I don’t look at the draw,” Garcia said. “I’m usually like, ‘There she is on the mat,’ because if I know about it prior I over think it.”
Garcia will take on Ukiah’s Kylee Winzler in her first match Friday.
Nipomo’s Lugo enters Masters on a tear
Anthony Lugo, another Nipomo wrestler, will be more than 200 miles south on the same day at the boys wrestling CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario trying to qualify for the CIF State Finals next weekend in Bakersfield.
Lugo, a senior, was the 160-pound champion at last weekend’s CIF-Southern Section Inland Division Championships at Temecula Valley High School. Lugo defeated Los Osos senior Jacob Wright to win the title and qualify for the Masters for the first time in his high school career.
“In the beginning of the season, I was slacking it a little bit,” Lugo said Wednesday. “I was losing, and then one tournament I just got beat really bad. And I was just like, ‘I’m not going to get beat like that again.’ ”
Since then, Lugo has refined his technique and been on a tear. He won the Los Padres League championship and pinned all but one of his opponents at sectionals.
“I just started thinking of all the moves I know and slowly got it,” Lugo said.
Lugo will look to finish in the top nine at Masters to qualify for CIF State Finals. He will begin the quest Friday against Arthur Lam from Villa Park in the first round.
Paso Robles sends two, Arroyo Grande sends one to Masters
Three more SLO County boys wrestlers will be in Ontario after top-six finishes at the regional meet. Arroyo Grande senior Brendan Foster (126 pounds) finished fifth last weekend to qualify. He will wrestle Tino Lopez from Alta Loma High School in the first round.
Paso Robles will send two wrestlers to the Masters. Senior John Cabral (195 pounds) finished in third place last weekend and will face Esperanza junior Michael Hamilton in the first round Friday. Senior heavyweight Juan Camacho (285 pounds) also finished third last weekend and will take on Capistrano Valley sophomore Randy Arriaga in the first round.
The girls wrestling CIF State Finals will be streamed at MySpectrumSports.com/Ca/Socal/Cif-sports.