Ramona Jimenez has kept building up her skills in four years as a high school wrestler.

Now, with a second-place finish at the Sac-Joaquin Section Girls Southern Regional tournament, she’s on the path to a repeat trip to the California Interscholastic Federation state championships.

“State helped me get more confident and become a better leader for my team. I knew that was a different level,” she said of her experience at last year’s state tournament, where she went 1-2.

She said that just qualifying, after placing sixth at the SJS Masters tournament last year, set her up for this year’s accomplishments.

Jimenez went into the regional tournament, held Friday and Saturday at Central Valley High in Ceres, as the No. 2 seed in her class with a 25-5 record this year.

She won three matches in a row in the preliminary rounds of the 162-pound bracket, all by pin, before facing Carla Martinez of Central Valley High in the championship match. Martinez scored on a takedown midway through the first period, but after that the two wrestled an even match. Neither was able to take the advantage again and the match ended as a 2-0 decision for Martinez.

“I was talking to my coach earlier and he said she was going to be fast, but I’ve got the strength,” Jimenez said. “She came in with strength as well. I knew I had to watch out for her shots and throws, and she was going to throw everything my way, so I had to give her everything I’ve got too.”

Her next stop is the SJS Masters tournament this Friday and Saturday at Stockton Arena.

“I know I have to settle back down because Masters is another stop on the way to state, and that’s my goal, to get back to state,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez is one of eight local girls who will compete at the SJS Masters tournament, including four who took third place at the regional meet last weekend.

Kimball High sophomore Sophia Stagnaro (103) took a 26-5 record into the meet and went 6-1, including two wins by pin and then a loss by pin in the quarterfinals to Hailey Ward of Turlock, the eventual champion. After that, Stagnaro won four matches in a row, including the third-place match, which she won with a second-period pin (1:32) over Ezra Moral of Sierra High.

“I wrestled her before when we wrestled in team (duals). I knew she was going to shoot on me. I just needed to work on defense,” Stagnaro said. “There was just one point where I was on top and I pinned her down.”

She is going to the section championships after wrestling for just three months. Her grandfather, a former high school wrestler, inspires her, as do her teammates.

“I just want to see how far I can go,” she said. “My parents have really been helping me along the way.”

West High freshman Kalila Shrive placed third in the 162-pound bracket. She went into the tournament with a 20-2 record and won four of her five matches. She won her first two matches by pin and then lost to Mountain House High’s Jimenez in the semifinals.

In that match, the two were evenly matched through the first two periods. Jimenez finally got the advantage late in the third period and won by pinning Shrive with 14 seconds left in the match.

Shrive went on to win two more matches, including the third-place match against Yadira Flores of Atwater High, who she pinned in the third period (4:37).

“She liked hooking my arms and going for a head toss or just turning me straight on my back,” Shrive said. “I just made sure I circled out of it. I tried to get good setups so I could take shots and take her down.”

She is also headed for the section championships in her first year as a wrestler and said that each win inspires her to keep working hard.

“I didn’t think I was going to get this much into wrestling, but I’ve enjoyed it. It’s a good experience,” she said. “I love hanging out with my team. They’re a great environment and they encourage and help me with anything that I need help with.”

Mountain House senior Jessica Emerson (191) had a 17-8 record before the tournament and went 3-1 to place third. She won her quarterfinal match by pin and lost to eventual champion Alexa Garcia of Sierra High in the semifinals. Emerson won her next match on a 13-2 major decision and then beat Megan Brock of Atwater High in the third-place match.

Emerson is making her second trip to the SJS Masters tournament, and her three wins on Friday and Saturday, including her 7-4 decision over Brock, who beat her in previous competition, make a big difference moving forward.

“Last year, I placed sixth (at the regional tournament) and I feel like I got a pass to Masters,” she said. “This year, I told my coach that I feel like I want to earn my spot, and it was the same situation: There were eight girls exactly, so my goal was to place as high as possible.”

Kimball High junior Itzel Montoya (HWT) is new to wrestling and had a 4-0 record going into the regional tournament. She went 2-1, winning by pin in her first match, losing by pin in the semifinals, and winning the third-place match with a second-period pin (1:28) against Aneisha Goodlow of Lincoln High.

Montoya said the strength training and conditioning that wrestlers undergo during the season paid off for her.

“I’m stronger than I thought I was,” she said. “It’s exciting. I didn’t think I would go that far, but I’m really happy and proud of myself.”

Tracy High sophomore Alysse Leanos (113) placed fourth in her bracket, going 3-2 for the tournament with three wins by pin and two losses by pin. She is looking forward to the competition at the next level.

“I’ve learned that I’m way more capable of doing stuff that I didn’t know I was able to do, and I’ve gained a lot of confidence,” she said. “I’m pretty happy with how I did for it being my first year wrestling.”

Masters qualifiers also include Mountain House senior Michelle Poland (118), already a three-time Masters qualifier, who lost her semifinal match on Saturday on an injury default. Mountain House coach Tim Cantu said she had to withdraw because of a dislocated shoulder, but she was still guaranteed at least sixth place at the regional tournament and is expected to compete this weekend.

West High junior Serena Sanchez (172) qualified with her eighth-place finish. She went 2-3, including two wins by pin.

Sac-Joaquin Section South Regional Girls Wrestling Tournament

Friday and Saturday, Central Valley High, Ceres

Championship

162—Carla Martinez, Central Valley, def. Ramona Jimenez, Mountain House, decision, 2-0.

Third place

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Ezra Moral, Sierra, fall, 1:32.

113—Cami Jarmon, Sierra, def. Alysse Leanos, Tracy, fall, 2:01.

162—Kalila Shrive, West, def. Yadira Flores, Atwater, fall, 4:37.

191—Jessica Emerson, Mountain House, def. Megan Brock, Atwater, decision, 7-4.

HWT—Itzel Montoya, Kimball, def. Aneisha Goodlow, Lincoln, fall, 1:28.

Fifth place

118—Natalia Helms, Atwater, def. Michelle Poland, Mountain House, forfeit.

Seventh place

172—Jenessa Serrano, Bear Creek, def. Serena Sanchez, West, fall, 2:28.

Consolation semifinals

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Pamela Decko, Lodi, fall, 4:14.

113—Alysse Leanos, Tracy, def. Kaylee Freeseha, Escalon, fall, 1:34.

118—Marissa Jaime, Lincoln, def. Michelle Poland, Mountain House, injury default.

162—Kalila Shrive, West, def. Elora Parises, Lodi, fall, 0:53.

191—Jessica Emerson, Mountain House, def. Mia Lopez, Turlock, major decision, 13-2.

HWT—Itzel Montoya, Kimball, def. Micheala Shelton, Franklin, injury default.

Semifinals

113—Samira Mason, Tokay, def. Alysse Leanos, Tracy, fall, 3:10.

118—Alyssa Oliver, Ripon, def. Michelle Poland, Mountain House, injury default.

162—Ramona Jimenez, Mountain House, def. Kalila Shrive, West, fall, 5:46.

191—Alexa Garcia, Sierra, def. Jessica Emerson, Mountain House, fall, 1:54.

HWT—Yisela Vera-Rojas, Atwater, def. Itzel Montoya, Kimball, fall, 1:32.

Consolation fifth round

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Jordan Brower, Livingston, fall, 2:42.

172—Mackenzie Romero, East Union, def. Serena Sanchez, West, fall, 0:13.

Consolation fourth round

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Barbara Dominquez, El Capitan, fall, 0:37.

172—Serena Sanchez, West, def. Grace Philips, Lincoln, fall, 3:15.

Quarterfinals

103—Hailey Ward, Turlock, def. Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, fall, 2:57.

113—Alysse Leanos, Tracy, def. Damarys Anguiano-Lara, Golden Valley, fall, 2:11.

118—Michelle Poland, Mountain House, def. Corinna Lemus, Merced, fall, 1:56.

162—Ramona Jimenez, Mountain House, def. Alicia Garcia, Merced, fall, 2:00.

162—Kalila Shrive, West, def. Samantha Lower, Los Banos, fall, 4:39.

191—Jessica Emerson, Mountain House, def. Maricela Isordia, Tokay, fall, 5:37.

HWT—Itzel Montoya, Kimball, def. Briana Cardenas, Bear Creek, fall, 1:03.

Consolation third round

103—Aryanna Gonzalez, Chavez, def. Melissa Eutracio, Tracy, fall, 2:06.

118—Jasmine Castillo, Pacheco, def. Yamilex Fajardo, Tracy, fall, 1:00.

123—Aerion Duguman, Bear Creek, def. Virginia Metge, Tracy, fall, 2:15.

128—Annie Wood, Ripon, def. Abigail Christa Arunkumar, Mountain House, fall, 4:45.

133—Isabella Pelayo, Central Valley, def. Edna Torres, West, decision, 9-6.

172—Serena Sanchez, West, def. Vivian Parsons, Ripon, fall, 1:29.

Consolation second round

103—Lilly Sanchez, Buhach Colony, def. Ihina Nath, Mountain House, decision, 11-5.

103—Melissa Eutracio, Tracy, def. Kadence Kosaka, Ripon, fall, 2:26.

108—Camilla Herrera, Manteca, def. Lexi Rees, Kimball, fall, 3:42.

113—Yvette Villalobos, Atwater, def. Veronika Emerson, Mountain House, fall, 2:40.

118—Arrenia Corbin, Gregori, def. Marisol Huizar, West, fall, 2:10.

123—Aerion Duguman, Bear Creek, def. Kalaynah Gooden, Mountain House, fall, 4:13.

123—Virginia Metge, Tracy, def. Lillian Kanemoto, Los Banos, decision, 3-0.

128—Alexandra Nold, Modesto, def. Arianna Kurys, Tracy, fall, 1:58.

133—Edna Torres, West, def. Sophia Licea, Bret Harte, decision, 4-3.

Championship second round

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Natalie Moreno-Agular, Golden Valley, fall, 0:56.

113—Samira Mason, Tokay, def. Veronika Emerson, Mountain House, fall, 0:19.

113—Alysse Leanos, Tracy, def. Kaylee Freeseha, Escalon, fall, 2:13.

118—Michelle Poland, Mountain House, def. Victoria Simpson, Lodi, fall, 1:39.

118—Jackeline Hernandez, El Capitan, def. Yamilex Fajardo, Tracy, fall, 0:22.

128—Maria Valente, Edison, def. Abigail Christa Arunkumar, Mountain House, fall, 1:19.

133—Lily Mogler, Tokay, def. Edna Torres, West, fall, 3:14.

162—Ramona Jimenez, Mountain House, def. Isabella Lebed, Lincoln, fall, 0:59.

162—Kalila Shrive, West, def. Graciela Farias, Hilmar, fall, 3:56.

172—Valerie Osborne, Oakdale, def. Serena Sanchez, West, fall, 0:36.

Championship first round

103—Sophia Stagnaro, Kimball, def. Ihina Nath, Mountain House, fall, 1:07.

103—Crystal Hernandez, Los Banos, def. Melissa Eutracio, Tracy, fall, 4:48.

108—Tresemay Briceno, Los Banos, def. Lexi Rees, Kimball, fall, 5:00.

118—Michelle Poland, Mountain House, def. Andrea Merino, Livingston, fall, 1:12.

118—Natalia Helms, Atwater, def. Marisol Huizar, West, fall, 1:29.

123—Myriam Lopez, Livingston, def. Kalaynah Gooden, Mountain House, decision, 9-4.

123—Vanessa Torres, El Capitan, def. Virginia Metge, Tracy, sudden victory, 13-11.

128—Maria Valente, Edison, def. Arianna Kurys, Tracy, fall, 0:46.

Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at brownne@tracypress.com, or call 209-830-4227.

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