The mats at the Berry Center open up for practice in just a few hours, and we take our final preview look at the championship brackets. El Paso Hanks is strutting into Cypress this evening looking to collect their sixth consecutive team title, and there doesn’t seem to be any team positioned to threaten their dynasty, although Justin Northwest, Canyon Randall and Azle are poised to rack up the team points in a potentially close race for second.
Individually, every single weight class has at least one returning top-3 finisher from last year’s state tournament. This includes four defending state champions, five silver medalists and four bronze medalists. Of the 58 returning state qualifiers, 25 are looking to make a return trip to the podium. Here is a weight-by-weight analysis of the key match-ups and competitors to watch in each bracket:
95lb: The luck of the random draw seedings puts defending silver medalist #1 Jasmine Howard (29-0), Azle on the top of the bracket with #2 Odelia Lopez (26-1), Corpus Christi Ray. Lopez suffered her only loss of the season in a 7-0 decision to Howard last month at the CFISD Invitational finals. We could see a rematch in Saturday morning’s semis, assuming Lopez gets past #3 Marisol Romo (8-4), Richmond Foster in the quarterfinals. Yep, the top three wrestlers are all sitting on the same side of the bracket, along with #5 Riley Morrison (44-8), Princeton. On the bottom half, #4 Olivia DeGeorgio (13-2), Willis and #6 Jacey Burreson (39-3), Frisco Lebanon Trail will be on a collision course.
102lb: Once again – the CFISD Invitational at the Berry Center may very well have served as a state girls’ preview where #1 Madison Brown (41-3), Northwest prevailed over #2 Valerie Carreon (37-2), Richmond Foster. Tomorrow, they start out on opposite ends sides of the bracket, and in natural order, with Carreon potentially facing #3 Alejandra Briere-Segovia (41-4), Mission Sharyland and Brown lined up with #4 Skyler Martius (31-5), El Paso Chapin.
110lb: #2 Savannah West (41-6), Frisco Liberty was last year’s silver medalist at 110lb, her quest to move up a notch on the podium may be interrupted by last year’s 102lb champion #1 Victoria Nunez (5-1), El Paso Hanks who is on the other side of the bracket. #3 Elexis Kalar (25-2), Austin Johnson, who placed 4th last year could challenge West in the semi-finals, if she gets past a potential quarterfinal contest against #4 Trinti Smith (20-8), Azle.
119lb: Defending champion #1 Jacqueline Ghent (32-1), CC Veterans Memorial worked her way through most of the top ranked 6A girls in this weight class at the CFISD Invitational before suffering her only loss of the year, to double All-American powerhouse Camille Fournier. #3 Tatianna Garcia (36-3), Amarillo Caprock and#4 Ariana Rodriguez (32-5), College Station are on the top half of the bracket with Ghent, while #2 Natalie Berumen (32-2), Carrollton Turner works through the bottom half.
128lb: Many expect a region 1 re-match of defending state champion #1 Isabelle Gonzalez (32-1), El Paso Hanks and #3 Skye Bravo (40-4), Canyon Randall for the 128lb title. Bravo will have to get past #2 Sariah Ferguson (31-7), Frisco Independence on Friday night to stay in the day 2 gold medal race. If she does, she could start her Saturday with a semifinal bout against #4 Maddie Sandquist (38-4), Humble Kingwood Park. Isabelle should waltz her way through the lower half of the bracket while she watches the #2, #3, and #4 wrestlers battle each other for a spot in the finals.
138lb: In the great migration down from 148lb, both of last year’s finalist are now competing in the 138 bracket. Defending 148 champion #1 Adelyhda Perez (26-2), Uvalde and 148lb runner-up #3 Ashley Cook (42-7), Frisco Liberty are on opposite ends of the bracket. Cook may have to contend with #2 Abby Anaya (25-6), El Paso Hanks in the semis while Perez has #4 Mikayla Hodnett (17-3), College Station A&M Cons on her side of the bracket.
148lb: With the exodus of Perez and Cook, you would expect last year’s bronze medalist, #7 Bonnie Lopez (24-4), Amarillo River Road to be a favorite here, but the coaches ranked her pretty far down the list after her disappointing 4th place regional finish, which earns her a date with #3 Alana Curl (27-8), New Waverly in the first round. The winner of that match may be facing #2 Vianna Barbosa (30-3), Amarillo Caprock in the semis, while #1 Karestin Andrews (27-2), Grapevine sits on the top half of the bracket with #4 DeUndria Anderson (43-6), Beeville Jones.
165lb: 2018 silver medalist #3 Danielle Saldivar (46-5), El Paso Eastwood is on the bottom half of the bracket with #2 KiAundra Green (34-3), Dallas Kimball, a potential quarterfinals match-up Friday afternoon. #1 Princess Egbuchunam (42-9), Frisco Liberty and #4 Kiya Jones (41-3), Huntsville are seeded in the top half of the bracket.
185lb: #1 Natalia Villegas (35-2), CC Veterans Memorial took home a bronze last year and is on the top half of the bracket with #5 Morgan Elvin (27-1), Lucas Lovejoy and #4 Abigayle Szanto (30-5), Frisco Independence, who will be tested right away by #8 Jewel Lively (15-3), Azle. #2 Zoe Hankins (30-1), El Paso Parkland and #3 Malachi Kyser (24-1), Arlington Seguin split the bottom half of the bracket.
215lb: #1 Lily Mills (37-0), Canyon Randall is on a mission after two straight years as runner-up. At the Texas Ladies’ Classic in December, she handed Defending National Champion and 6A Champion Gabby Holloway her only loss in two years in a 6-5 battle, and has not slowed down since. #2 Brooklyn Moreno-Arispe (36-1), Corpus Christi Ray, #3 Emily Arreola (24-1), El Paso Jefferson and #4 Elizabeth Grabiec (28-11), Lewisville The Colony are all in the lower half of the bracket, while #5 Alieen Frias (36-5), El Paso Eastwood is the highest ranked seed up top with Mills.
The girls tournament begins at 11:30 am Friday Feb 22 at the Berry Center in Cypress.