Aptos High junior Janie Houser lost to Gilroy High freshman Tamara Grace in the 126-pound championship match at the Central Coast Section Masters Meet at Watsonville High on Feb. 18. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE—Aptos High junior Janie Houser was the No. 5 seed going into the 126-pound weight class bracket at last week’s Central Coast Section wrestling finals. 

She knew there had to be some upsets in order for her to have any chance of qualifying for the big show at this year’s state championships. 

Houser was able to pull off two major defeats and placed second at the Masters Meet in front of hundreds of wrestling fans from all over the Bay Area who gathered at Watsonville High School for a second-straight year. 

She beat Burlingame High sophomore Lauren Aguilar and Alisal High junior Alondra Juarez, who were ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, to advance to the semifinals. 

Houser also earned an automatic berth to the CIF State Championships at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield that started Thursday and will continue until Saturday.

“I’m really excited I was able to do that in the semis this round instead of having to go through the consolation round,” she said. “It made things a lot easier.” 

Houser lost in the championship to Gilroy High freshman Tamara Grace, the top seed going into the tournament. Still, she was pleased with her performance especially after getting pinned by Grace in the opening round of the CCS Southern Regionals on Feb. 11.

“It was a big improvement this time, I scored some points and we went all three rounds,” Houser said. 

The goal for Houser is to place in the top-8 and stand on the podium with the best wrestlers in the state.

“I don’t really care where I place, I just want to place at state,” she said.

Houser pinned Lailanie Vongnakhone of Sanger High in 3:05 to win Thursday’s opener of the CIF State Championships. She lost the following match to Carissa Qureshi of Marina High in the Round of 16.

Houser has a chance to earn a medal and a possible shot to wrestle in the third place match. She’ll have to get past the winner of Friday’s consolation match between Brianna Busse of Del Norte High and Regina Seyfi of Burroughs High. 

Watsonville High senior Danisha Nuñez won her opening match in the 101-pound weight class against Savannah Talmadge of Northgate High in a 4-2 decision and then dropped her second match to Olivia Lopez of Hamilton.

Nuñez will try to bounce back Friday in the consolation bracket. She will square off against the winner between Kaydance Vang of Sheldon High and Josie Benitez of Kingsburg High.  

Nuñez qualified for the State finals after beating Alisal High senior Celeste Meza in the 101-pound third place match in her home gymnasium at last week’s CCS Masters Meet. 

“I’ve wrestled [Meza] before, so I definitely felt like I knew what I was getting myself into,” Nuñez said. “But obviously I still wanted to go in with that mentality that I’m not going to win again. I just have to go in hard.”

Nuñez also knew exactly what her game plan was, yet she mentioned her top game was just a little too out of hand. 

“I feel like I could’ve had more control, I was getting the chicken wing too much, I got cautioned a couple of times,” she said.

Besides that she felt the match went well and she wasn’t fatigued after the tournament.

Nuñez noticed the competition was definitely harder than last year. She advanced to the championship bracket semifinals but lost in a 7-3 decision to Presentation High senior Abeeygael Cabuag, who won the 101-pound title.

Despite the loss, Nuñez saw major improvement and was excited about her performance. She felt a bit overwhelmed prior to the Masters Meet, yet fully confident that everything would turn out in her favor.

“I think throughout the tournament I already knew what I wanted to go in, what I wanted to practice, my go-tos,” she said.
Nuñez was the lone Wildcatz wrestler to advance to the CIF State finals. She’ll still have support from her teammates including sophomore Martha Zurita, who lost to Hollister High senior Lillian Thrasher in the 131-pound weight class consolation bracket. 

Pajaro Valley sophomore Jocelyn Santana barely missed the cut to the state finals. She pinned Burlingame senior Erika Jiang in 1:51 for a fifth place finish in the 189-pound weight class. 

It was her first season on the wrestling team and said it was a dream come true for her to reach last week’s championship meet. 

“It means so much because it’s my first year doing a sport and I never thought I was going to get that far,” she said. 

Santana is already excited for what’s in store for next season and she wants to earn a chance to qualify for a trip to the state finals.

“I like wrestling because it’s a one-on-one sport and I feel like it’s just something I love,” she said.

On the boys side, Monte Vista Christian sophomore Rykin Resurreccion beat Aptos High senior Andrew Acevedo for fifth place in the 132-pound weight division.  

Resurreccion advanced to the semifinals where he was pinned by Sobrato High junior Aiden Valencia, who won the championship over Gilroy High senior Daniel Zepeda.

Resurreccion beat Homestead senior Tyler Tamura and Gunn junior Myles Stoltz in the first two rounds. Following his loss in the semifinals, Resurreccion was bumped to the consolation bracket where he lost to Fremont sophomore Justin Tan in a 10-4 decision. 

Acevedo was also in the running for the third and final spot to the CIF State Championship until he dropped his match in the consolation round to Los Gatos senior Peter Bowen.   

Acevedo had previously lost to Bowen in the opening round of the championships and fought his way through the consolation bracket by beating Mountain View junior Andrew Nguyen, Live Oak sophomore D’angelo Cardenas and Stoltz. 

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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