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As the fall season ends, winter is upon us, and Long Beach girls’ wrestling is ramping up for the 2022-2023 season.
Millikan is preparing to defend its Moore League title and senior Destiny Moreno is looking to cap off her high school career strong after placing at CIF and taking eighth place at last year’s Masters.
Along with Moreno, who is a captain this season, sophomore Eliana Sarn is someone that coach Blake Lovato expects to make an impact on this year’s team. Helen Martinez is another returner the Rams expect to make noise as a heavyweight.
Lovato expects Leilani Baxter to make strides this season after an impressive summer that will see the senior move down in weight class.
“She’s already pretty good,” Lovato said of Baxter. “She was right behind Sophia Miller and basically they were neck and neck when she was a freshman and she was never able to really get past the lineup because of a state placer.”
Millikan also expects to see Jelen Escala who is joining the team this season.
“She’s still pretty raw,” Lovato said. “But I think she’s got a lot of potential.”
At Long Beach Poly, coach Ken Lee and the Jackrabbits are expecting captain Athziri Guizar to lead a young team this year.
“She’s been working hard ever since last year,” Lee said. “She’s trying to wrestle in the tougher brackets and she’s been able to travel to far tournaments and get more experience out there. She’s one of our key wrestlers this year.”
After not being able to fill a whole team last season, Poly is back and will be able to compete in more weight classes after having a bigger turnout.
“Last year we had quite a few holes,” Lee said. “Especially because of COVID, it was really hard for us to build the team.”
Junior Raven Ross is another returner that is looking to help guide Poly to a Moore League title. She was a CIF placer and was one match away from Masters last season. Ross finished sixth at the Freakshow wrestling event in Las Vegas in October.
Coach Seth Wegter at Wilson is excited for the season with a young team that will be led by its senior returners.
“I think for the Moore League the numbers were definitely (lower),” Wegter said. “I don’t want to speak for other teams, but from what I can tell, there are a lot of gaps because you couldn’t recruit the same way. There wasn’t a freshman orientation in person and there were just a lot of other issues that made it more difficult to get the sport out there.”
Wegter and the Bruins were adding some depth to go with senior Stephanie Ibarra.
“Super tough wrestler,” Wegter said. “Not sure where she’s going to be this year, but she’s more of a middleweight.”
Along with Ibarra, Kayla Espinosa is another returner that’s expected to lead the way for a young team that will feature a lot of new wrestlers.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm for the girls’ program,” Wegter said. “But we’re definitely young.”
It’s a bit of a rebuild at Lakewood as the Lancers’ top two wrestlers left the program. But, for the first time in some time, Lakewood has a team of 12 and will be able to compete for the Moore League title with some depth.
“It should be a more competitive year for us because we don’t have them all stacked in the same weight class,” Lakewood coach Randy Gonzalez said. “Every year we’re stacked from the 160s up. We haven’t really had a lower weight, so we have a few lower weights now.”
Zainab Hakeem graduated, and Saiheron Preciado-Meza has transferred out. Hakeem was a Masters placer and Preciado-Meza won Masters at 189 pounds.
While the Lancers will be without two of their top finishers, Lakewood will welcome back Kayla Selvidge who was a Moore League champion last season who will be one of the captains for a young team.
“She’s our leader in the room with the girls,” Lakewood coach Randy Gonzalez said. “So, she’s kind of taken the reins of that.”
Along with Selvidge, newcomer Viriangie Montano-Rosario who is a sophomore wrestling for the first time.
“We’ve seen she’s going to be the surprise of the league I think,” Gonzalez said. “She just has a lot of natural ability.”
After not being able to field teams due to COVID, Jordan and Compton are going to return to the mat this season after not having the numbers last season.
The wrestling season is currently underway and Moore League action will begin on Dec. 8.