Rancho Cotate High School wrestler Vickie Espinoza won the state title in the 235-pound weight class at the CIF championships in Visalia Saturday, and she had to beat a familiar rival to do it.
The senior pinned Petaluma High School’s Michelle Larsen in the second round of their title match. The two were the last remaining Redwood Empire wrestlers of the 15 who made the trip to the Central Valley this weekend.
Espinoza pinned a total of four opponents in five matches over the two-day championship tournament. She won by major decision in her semifinal match.
Larsen, also a senior, had an easier path to the final, earning a bye in the first two rounds. She won by decision in the quarterfinal round and then pinned her semifinal opponent to set up the showdown with Espinoza.
The Rancho wrestler’s win avenges her loss in the state finals in 2015, a loss in double overtime to the reigning state champ.
This year, it was Larsen who faced that wrestler — Lakiyah Waggoner of Birmingham High School in Los Angeles — in the semifinals and won after Waggoner withdrew due to injury.
Espinoza this month signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Oklahoma State University in the fall.
Willits’ Gabby Agenbroad was the only other Empire wrestler to reach the quarterfinals Friday, losing by pin in the 189-pound weight class.