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February 24, 2021

CCS Girls Championship: LO’s Fernandez advances to state in an unexpected way

Isabella Fernandez is a CCS champion in a weight she never thought she would be competing.
Fernandez had four straight first round pins to advance to the finals at the girls championships then won by forfeit over Mallory Moore from Terra Nova to advance to state in March.
Moore advanced out of the semis when her opponent was disqualified for unnecessary roughness that led to her suffering a concussion.
Fernandez was the only one of three from Live Oak who qualified for state and the only one from the South Valley.
Gilroy and San Benito each sent two wrestlers and Christopher sent one.
Fernandez was supposed to compete at 116, but she switched places with her teammate Christina Perea when she couldn’t make weight at 121.
“I wanted her to wrestle, so I said it doesn’t even matter, I don’t care what weight I go, you’re going to wrestle. I’ll wrestle up, I don’t care,” Fernandez said. “It ended up working out for the best.”
The weight switch meant Fernandez had to give up her No. 2 seed and a first round bye. Instead, she was unseeded and had to wrestle in the first round, but didn’t let that faze her.
“I knew I was going to be smaller than a lot of the girls because of going down a class, but I knew I could handle it pretty well. I wrestled 21s all season, I wasn’t worried,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez never saw the second round in any of her matches. Her shortest match lasted just 39 seconds. Her longest went 1:46, which came in the semis against Christopher’s Maraya Carmona.
The win qualified Fernandez for the state tournament. She was the only one from the South Valley who advanced.
“She did great in this tournament. At the beginning, I knew she had a good shot at the finals,” said assistant coach Josh Acosta who takes the girls to tournaments. “… She has it. She’s been wrestling forever. She has the skills (and) she has the knowledge. I’m very, very proud of her.”
This is the third time Fernandez is moving on to state.
“State’s no joke and this year I’m going into the tournament a lot more confident,” Fernandez said. “I’ve been working really hard this season. I think I’m going to do really well.”
Fernandez acknowledged the girls she will face at state will be bigger, but she is still confident because she has wrestled up all year.
Carmona, the defending CCS champion, advanced to the third place round, but fell by pin early in the second period.
Meanwhile, Live Oak’s Perea — who was battling illness during the weekend — advanced to the semis in 116 thanks to a first round bye and a pin just 11 seconds into her second round match.
She advanced to the semis thanks to a 7-3 win over Lowell thanks to a near fall in the third round.
In the semis, she lost by a fall in the third period, sending her to the consolation round. After winning her first match by 9-2 decision, she forfeited the third place match.
“She showed a lot of heart,” Acosta said. “She went into this and was not felling well at all. She pushed through it.”
Acosta is confident that for Perea’s senior year, she will be in the mix to advance to state.
“For her, she still has another year. She’ll just have to build on it and come back bigger, faster stronger for next year,” Acosta said.
Gilroy also sent a wrestler to the semis, as Courtney Pipkin advanced in the 101 pound class but had to face the No. 1 seed in the semis.
To get there, Pipkin had to overcome an 5-0 deficit after the first round then trailed 7-6 after two. She then scored a near fall to win 9-7.
In the semis, Pipkin fell by major decision, then lost her next two matches to take sixth.
Rounding out Live Oak was Amber Aochi who wrestled well at 106, but hit some bad luck in two losses.
Aochi was seeded No. 2, receiving a bye in the first round. She then advanced to the quarterfinals by way of a technical fall.
Aochi was well on her way to the semis, up 12-1 in the third period when she got reversed after going for a pin and was herself pinned to fall into the consolation bracket where she won her first match by pin.
In the consolation quarters, she hit another patch of bad luck.
Aochi was up by one point in the third with one minute left when the clock stopped. She was battling to avoid being pinned, but no one on the mat noticed the clock wasn’t running. After a while, the mistake was discovered by the scoring table and the clock was restarted.
Twenty seconds later, Aochi was pinned.
Acosta downplayed the controversy, saying even though the mistake took a while to notice, it didn’t affect the outcome.
Also competing was Gilroy’s Lily Marquez-Trevino who went 0-2, not including a pair of byes.
For San Benito, Samantha Strickland (101) and Sydney Lomanto (106) both went 0-2 for the tournament.

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