PREP WRESTLING: Sanger High pins down success in Lady Apache Invite

Apaches girls wrestling tournament held in Fresno’s Selland Arena for the first time, team ties for title in 9th annual event

The Sanger High girls wrestling team gathers for a group shot after tying for the team championship of the 40-team, two-day Lady Apache Invitational tournament at Selland Arena in Fresno on Jan. 12-13. The Apaches tied Pioneer Valley with 137 points, and featured nine top-eight finisher led by second place finisher Gabriela Flores at 145 pounds. (Sanger High Wrestling)
Jon Earnest
Published January 15, 2024  • 
11:00 am

FRESNO – Sanger High’s girls wrestling program achieved a milestone with its ninth annual Lady Apache Invitational tournament over the weekend.

For the first time, the team hosted the event at Fresno’s Selland Arena, and it was a two-day extravaganza featuring 40 schools from throughout the Central Valley and state. The Apaches also turned out to be successful hosts, scoring 137 points to share team championship honors with Pioneer Valley High from Santa Maria.

The Apaches and Panthers were followed in the team standings by Highland-Bakersfield (133), Righetti-Santa Maria (132), Golden West (104) and El Diamante (102). Sanger had nine wrestlers turn in top eight finishes or better, highlighted by a second place silver medal performance from Gabriela Flores at 145 pounds.

Other Apache top eighth finishers were Lailanie Vongnakhone (fourth place); Sadey Weiss (fifth place); Jenniyah Duarte and Jenna Garcia (sixth place); Camila Bernaga and Natalie Castrejon (seventh place); and Leslie Gonzales and Eliza Vang (eighth place).

In addition, junior varsity wrestlers competed in the 41st annual Sanger JV Boys Tournament both days as well.

Wrestlers, coaches and fans from 40 schools turned out to Selland Arena in Fresno for the two-day Lady Apache Invitational hosted by Sanger High School. The host Apaches tied Pioneer Valley for the team title with 137 points, placing nine wrestlers in the top eight in their weight classes, and took the ninth annual girls event into Selland Arena for the first time. (Sanger High Wrestling)

In a letter to boosters and tournament sponsors, Sanger coach Narciso Juarez thanked all who helped make the tournament and its new home a success, calling it “an unforgettable experience” for the wrestlers.

“The dedication and passion exhibited by coaches, athletes and parents who volunteered their time, the administration that provided guidance, and the hardworking employees who went above and beyond their duties did not go unnoticed,” he said. “Your collective efforts created an atmosphere where our young athletes felt supported, empowered and celebrated.”

Juarez called it a “significant milestone” moving the tournament to Selland.

“Witnessing our young wrestlers step onto that grand stage, fueled by the cheers and encouragement from the crowd, was a testament to the positive impact of your efforts,” he told boosters and tourney supporters. “Your dedication transformed a wrestling competition into a transformative experience that our young athletes will carry with them throughout their wrestling journeys.”

Sanger High now returns to County Metro Athletic Conference dual meet action, hosting Edison High on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at Sanger High South Gym. First JV matches are at 5:30 p.m., followed by the varsity girls and then varsity boys. The Apaches then travel to Morro Bay for the two-day California Invitational Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20.

Jon Earnest
Reporter