Valencia wrestling’s America Lopez finishes 6th at CIF State Championships

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BAKERSFIELD — America Lopez went into her second straight CIF State Championships determined. She wanted to surpass last year’s fifth-place finish.

After making it to the final day of the tournament on Saturday at Rabobank Arena, she nearly matched last season’s finish by ending the three-day event in sixth place in the 170-pound weight class.

“I had a lot of confidence, but I don’t know what happened,” Lopez said. “I don’t know. I was out of it, I was getting more mad too because I couldn’t get any points. That frustrated me more than anything.”

In her first match on Saturday, Gregori’s Liliana Vergara beat Lopez in a 4-2 decision in the consolation semifinals, but she wasn’t out of the tournament just yet.

Lopez continued to the next round, where she had another close match. She lost in a 3-1 decision against Corona’s Amara Devericks, scoring her only point on an escape with 11 seconds left in the third period.

“I think my last match, my two last matches I think I did good and I got up,” Lopez said. “But you know, they kept on holding me down. These are top girls. So this is no joke. But it was good. But I could’ve done better.”

The sophomore opened the tournament by pinning Kendall Branchand of San Leandro in the Round of 32, then pinned Tiyanna Leal of Durham in the Round of 16.

She lost to Baoanh Duncan of Clovis in the quarterfinals, sending her to the consolation bracket. She pinned both Mayfair’s Sophia Rivera and Birmingham’s Vianeth Jimenez to close out Friday.

“It was emotional,” Lopez said. “Since I lost and then I was winning and winning and then I lost in the quarters, so I was really mad, but it was okay. You just have to keep on going. You can’t let that one match bounce you out because if you let your emotions get ahold of you, you’re done.”

Lopez was one of three Valencia girls wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament, along with Priscilla Ramirez and Shani Tyson. She was the only Viking girls wrestler to make it to the final day of the State Championships.

She originally began training in jiu jitsu, but made the switch to wrestling after her brother, Nick, picked up the sport. She joined the Vikings as a freshman and has only continued to improve since.

She plans to wrestle for as long as possible and has the goal of wrestling in college.

“I want to go far. I want to go to college for sure,” Lopez said. “I want to get a scholarship. And I don’t know after that where I’m going to be, but I want to get a scholarship. That’s all I want. So far.”

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