Leonor Sarabia dominates her match against Menlo-Atherton's Gwen Tomkins

It was a duel of the two best high school girls wrestling teams in the Central Coast Section, and the Coastside team came out on top.

Thanks to multiple come-from-behind efforts and dominant submissions, the Half Moon Bay High School girls varsity wrestling team, ranked No. 1 in the CCS, bested Menlo-Atherton, 48-27, in a packed gym at Half Moon Bay High School on Thursday evening. With so few schools in the area boasting a full-size roster, this was a prime opportunity for both teams to make a statement about their dominance on the Peninsula. 

“This was big,” coach Tom Baker said afterward. “Huge cornerstone match for our program.”

Menlo-Atherton, the section’s second-best team and reigning champions, took an early lead, winning three out of the first four matches. After the Bears’ Anna Smith beat Sandra Sanchez, they held a 21-13 lead midway through.

Momentum began to swing the Cougars way after the match between Yulissa Ramirez and M-A’s Lauren Wargo. Ramirez, ranked ninth in CCS at 145 pounds, looked outmatched for 90 percent of the match. Down 2-0 going into the third round, her opponent committed three false starts and clasped her hands, resulting in three points for Ramirez. The Cougars’ senior then got out of the hold in the waning seconds, earning her another point in a hard-fought 4-2 victory. 

The sidelines erupted in cheers, and Half Moon Bay’s heavier hitters won four of the next five matches, all by submission. The Cougars got pins by Leonor Sarabia, Elisa Mendez, Jacqueline Miguel-Dolores, Nataly Gijon and Socorro Aguilar, and earned six team points each. 

Taylor Micallef, a savvy competitor who is ranked third in CCS at 123 pounds, was outmaneuvered by Alexia Bensoussan, sixth in the section, and lost 12-5. 

“The girl she wrestled, she and Taylor are among the best in the league,” Baker said. “She beat No.1 last week, and now she just beat Taylor. That girl is really good.”

Mendez, No. 2 in CCS at 162 pounds, looked composed in her 5-0 decision. Gijon, ranked seventh in CCS, needed just 24 seconds to pin Ashley Gutierrez and seal the team’s win in emphatic fashion to close out the meet. The girls will face Burlingame and Terra Nova before the PAL Tournament at San Mateo High School on Feb. 14. 

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