Valencia’s Gould, Lopez advance to last day of CIF State Wrestling Championships

Valencia's Ben Gould works to pin Nidal Farah of Buena High School earlier this year at Valencia High School. Dan Watson/The Signal

Valencia wrestling took half a dozen wrestlers to the CIF State Championships on Thursday. Two are advancing to wrestle on Saturday, the final day of the three-day tournament.

Ben Gould and America Lopez each will be competing in the consolation brackets at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield today and can finish as high as third place in the state tournament.

Gould, who took the 195 title at the CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet on Feb. 16, pinned Alex Vaca of Madera after scoring two points on a takedown in the Round of 32. In the Round of 16, he logged a reversal and a takedown in the second period to beat Peter Thomas of Torrey Pines 4-3.

The senior was handed his first loss of the season in the quarterfinals of the tournament, losing to Buchanan’s Jadon Martin. With 19 seconds left in the match, Martin executed an escape to win 12-11.

Gould recovered to win the following two matches in the consolation bracket against Faith Baptist’s Andrew Rasmussen in an 8-0 decision and Liberty’s Adrian Chavez in a 4-0 win by fall.

He next wrestles the loser of the semifinal match between Ryan Reyes of Gilroy and Peter Ming of Elk Grove today.

Lopez has the goal of surpassing last year’s fifth-place finish at the state level and is well on her way of achieving that. She pinned Tiyanna Leal of Durham in the Round of 16 but lost 2-1 to Baoanh Duncan of Clovis in the quarterfinals. Duncan had a reversal in the second period, and Lopez was only able to score a point on an escape with a minute left in the second.

Heading into the consolation bracket, she pinned Mayfair’s Sophia Rivera, then continued to pin Vianeth Jimenez of Birmingham.

Today, she’ll face the loser of the match between Alia Abushi (Arroyo) and Liliana Vergara (Gregori).

Jake Quintana, Braden Smelser, Priscilla Ramirez and Shani Tyson also represented the Vikings at the state tournament on Thursday and Friday.

Quintana, a freshman, had a solid run in the tourney in the 106-pound weight class. He lost his first match of the day to Richard Figueroa of Selma to move into the consolation bracket. But it’s not Quintana’s style to surrender, as he proved after winning in the elimination round in the CIF-SS Masters Meet to qualify for state.

He won three straight matches, starting with wins over Frontier’s Josh Acala and Evergreen’s Calvin Antonio. He followed up with a 3-2 win against Joaquin Arroyo of Calvary Chapel, scoring on a reversal and an escape.

Quintana ended his state tournament run in a 7-2 decision loss to Devin Garcia of James Logan.

Smelser, a junior, competed in his first-ever state tournament at 152, first losing in the Round of 32 to Alfredo Mendoza of Salinas, then dropping a close match to Adrian Gonzalez of Bakersfield. Gonzalez won 1-0, scoring his only point on an escape.

Ramirez (121), who was appearing in her second state tournament, beat Julia Casillas (Escalon) in the Round of 32 before getting pinned by Mt. Whitney’s Ashley Venegas.

In the consolation bracket, she pinned Cheyenne Baltagi (Norte Vista) and Mykhala Bagler (Elk Grove). Ramirez lost by decision 8-3 to Katie Gomez of Birmingham to end her state run.

Tyson, competing in the 131-pound weight class, pinned Central Valley’s Carla Martinez in the Round of 32, but lost by major decision to Mikaela Contreras in the Round of 16. She pinned Leonor Del Rio (Pachecho) in the consolation before losing by decision to Phonisha Pruitt of Lincoln.

Gould and Lopez resume wrestling today at 9 a.m. at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. The tournament can be streamed live online at

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