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Cabrillo coach Mike Wallace began the wrestling season thinking that he had a young team – one that would undergo some growing pains and a steep learning curve.

But the CHS regular season ends with seven male and female wrestlers placing in the top three of their Los Padres League weight classes – with a state pursuit now in play for all of them.

On the boys side: Patrick Durham (170-pound class) took second in the LPL finals at Nipomo on Saturday, while Riley Daltorio (113), Christian Reyes (138) and Cruz Smith (145) all placed third. The girl wrestlers were spearheaded by Mia Adames (second in the LPL, fifth during the regional CIF meet), Hayley Shell (first in the Central Coast League meet) and returning state qualifier Lesly Hernandez – who took third down in Corona Roosevelt to clinch her spot in the upcoming CIF state meet for girls.

Wallace, who attended the Northern Santa Barbara County Athletic Round Table at Giavanni’s Pizzeria in Orcutt on Monday, spoke highly of his athletes who have continued their season inside the wrestling mat at CHS.

“I think the four boys who are continuing on in CIF have gone above my expectations this season,” Wallace said after the luncheon. “They’ve come a long ways and placed at different tournaments. Patrick has done particularly well. So has Christian. All four of them have.”

The guys will now head to Great Oaks High School in Temecula for the CIF Southern Section Individual meet from Feb. 16-17.

While Adames and Shell have improved on the mat, so has Hernandez, Wallace said – as Hernandez also tangled with some male wrestlers this season, a first in awhile for her.

“I think the first couple of years, she wrestled against guys. But once we found out there were more girl tournaments – she got stronger and got faster. It did give her a little bit of an edge versus girl wrestlers,” Wallace said.

For Hernandez, she admitted she felt like a novice wrestler during her senior year when she had to grapple against the guys.

“It was kind of strange to wrestle them again because I felt like I was a freshman all over again – because I panicked and was worried even though I wrestled them before,” Hernandez said.

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But Hernandez added she came away with becoming an improved technician on the mat – and that experience will help prepare her for what lies ahead at the Visalia Convention Center come Feb. 23 for the CIF state finals in girls wrestling.

“It will be a little bit harder, but it’ll be worth it,” Hernandez said. “I get to wrestle more girls who have the same technical aspects or same level of wrestling I have.”

Wallace said that he loves the pedestal Hernandez has placed herself in as she now pursues her first state title on the mat.

“I’m happy for her. She deserves it,” Wallace said. “Last year she had a setback by placing eighth in CIF and then going on to state, she went 1-2. In the offseason, we worked real hard with club wrestling and participated in the out of season events. She worked real hard to get to this point. I’m extremely proud of her.”

Overall, Wallace is a proud coach for the quick development of his wrestlers – and points toward a bright future on the mat at Vandenberg Village.

“I think in the future, we’ll be much better,” Wallace said.

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