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CIF Regional Girls Wrestling TournamentFebruary 4 2017

Cabrillo's Lesly Hernandez gets position on her opponent before winning by fall during Saturday's CIF Southern Section Northern Regional at Pioneer Valley. Hernandez's big junior season has been a large reason why girls wrestling at CHS has increased in interest, says head coach Mike Wallace. 

The level of interest for wrestling among females at Cabrillo High has sparked in the last year — all because of Lesly Hernandez’s CIF state run one year ago.

And the growth of CHS girls wrestling has helped lead to head coach Mike Wallace’s enthusiasm for the mat season in Vandenberg Village, which started earlier this month.

“We now have eight to nine girls we were able to recruit,” Wallace said by phone on Tuesday. “This is the highest here (since he’s been coach). I think the most we’ve ever had was four. What helps us is that college wrestling among women has exploded big time.”

Wallace said one sales pitch he and the CHS coaches use to lure in girl wrestlers is the potential scholarship opportunities they could have in college through the mat. Wallace adds Hernandez’s success is another contributing factor with recruiting more female talent.

“With Lesly, it sparked interest for the girls at CHS. I’ve talked to some of the girls from the other sports to come out and I tell them there are scholarship opportunities in college,” Wallace said.  

Hernandez is a returning senior and has gotten on the college radar — as Linwood and Menlo College have shown interest, Wallace said.

Outside of the increased interest on the girls’ side, Wallace says he’s gotten some help on his staff from the football field.

“A.J. Pateras (head football coach at CHS) has come out and started helping us, too,” Wallace said. He adds former college wrestlers Chris Gonzalez and Courtney Monedero have added experience to his coaching staff. Monedero also has a background as a Jiu Jitsu instructor.

On the boys’ side, Wallace said there’s a good blend of underclassmen and experience on CHS’s side.

“We’ve got three 10th graders with experience,” Wallace said. “Christian Reyes has looked good in the 145-pound division. Cruz Smith and Patrick Durham are all showing good things. Some of my other young kids are showing promise.”

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He’s hoping his current heavyweight Casey Manns can show some potential at a weight he believes the newcomer from Kansas can thrive in.

“We’re hoping to get him to 220,” Wallace said.

Devin Brown is his lone junior on the roster — and Wallace said Brown has had to overcome some wrestling wounds.

“He’s had some injuries, but he’s looked healthy and strong,” Wallace said.

The Conquistadores recently took part in the Rumble at the Rock tournament held in Morro Bay from Dec. 8 to 9.