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Strategic Victories: A Deep Dive into the 6A Girls Wrestling Finals

With the last bead of sweat dropped, and the mats carefully rolled up and stored for next season, it is time to take a closer look at the 6A Girls’ finals matches, with an eye towards what gave each champion the winning edge.  I can tell you beforehand that if coaches and wrestlers want to know what skills to improve for next year, it would have to be work on takedowns, takedowns, and more takedowns. Use the off-season to learn freestyle and Grego-Roman styles. In addition to improving technically, spend a good amount of time with the mental aspect of the sport. Learn how to remain as calm as possible when all around you is going crazy; which is the UIL Championships.

As the lights at the CFISD Berry Center dimmed, the music and laser-light show took over, and the 6A and 5A Boys and Girls champion contestants marched out and took their place on either side of the mats for their introductions.  If the wrestlers weren’t already psyched to get out on the mat, this inspiring parade of champions would certainly get them there.

This article will focus on an analytical review of the 6A Girls’ matches during the Championship Round, based on many replays of my videos of all the contests.

100 lbs:  Cassandra Medrano, the Region 4 champion from Edinburg, brought a 37-0 record into the final matchup with Lillian Zapata of Lewisville Flower Mound, the runner-up in Region 1. Medrano pinned her way to the finals, while Zapata had two pins and a Sudden Victory. One of Medrano’s pins was against TX Wrestling’s #1 ranked/undefeated Jubilee Rendon to avenge last year’s 5-0 loss in the UIL Semis. Two of Zapata’s wins were regional champs (Bello-3 and Perez-2). 

At first glance, Medrano looked bigger and stronger. Her first shot went into Zapata’s waist, not into her legs. Zapata had two shrugs that moved Medrano right by her, but she couldn’t catch her to follow up.  Medrano was able to get her takedown around the halfway point of the period with an overhook and strong hip while defending one of Zapata’s shots.  Zapata kept her base and made her way to her feet for an escape. 2-1 for Medrano; Zapata deferred and Medrano chose bottom in the second. Medrano escaped after 15 seconds and they tied up in the middle. Zapata made a shot, but Medrano was able to sprawl and spin around for her second takedown. Again,  Zapata kept her base, and worked her way to her feet to force an escape, and the pair stayed on their feet until the period ended. 

Trailing 5-2, Zapata chose neutral to start the third. Zapata tried another shrug, or throw-by, but Medrano used a strong overhook to help her spin around for two. She finally flattened Zapata from her base, and looked back at the clock several times before being called for stalling. They restarted and Zapata escaped immediately, but it wasn’t enough. Medrano takes the title with a 7-3 decision. 

This match is a prime example of why it’s so important for wrestlers, even at this level, to perfect a second takedown. Zapata’s primary takedown was not working against Medrano. And without another, the only points she could score against her opponent was via escapes.

107 lbs:   This finals’ match pitted Arianna Beltran of Cy Ranch (48-2) against Grace Romans (40-6) of Allen. Texas Wrestling had Romans ranked at #1 and Beltran at #7.  Romans did not come down to 107 until mid-January, while Beltran was at the weight all season. All of Romans six losses except one, came at 114 lbs., three of them to Akeelah Moore, from 5A Melissa, the 5A runner-up at 114, She also lost to the 1-2 6A finishers at 114 lbs, Rayome and De La Cruz.   The other came at 120 lbs. way back in November.  Beltran’s signature win of the year was a first period pin against Margarita Norez in the Finals of the Lady Trojan Classic. Norez, the Region 1 champion finished 5th at UIL.

Romans had three pins to blaze her way to the Finals, one against the Region 4 champion, #2 Shobhana Spielmann of SA Reagan. Beltran had two pins and a tech fall.

Romans was visibly the taller of the two wrestlers. The first period was highlighted by two good shots by Romans, but Beltran was able to sprawl out and use her strength to get the wrestlers back to a neutral position. The rest of the period was scoreless.

Romans chose bottom to begin the second period and quickly stood to escape, but was tripped back to the mat. For the next sixty-two seconds, Romans did nothing on the bottom, and actually just balled-up for quite a bit of that time. Beltran could not get her flattened out. I’m curious why there was no stall called. And then all of a sudden, Romans stood up and tried…

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Written by Brian S. Doyle

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