By CONOR NICHOLL
Pittsburg girls’ wrestling enjoyed the first two state qualifiers in school history Friday at the Division I East sub-state championship at Leavenworth. Seniors Rebeccah Jones and Mercedes Angeles qualified at 115 and 170, respectively.
This marked the second season of KSHSAA sanctioned girls’ wrestling. This year, the playoff format changed. Last winter, KSHSAA had one class for girls. In ’20-21, girls’ wrestling split in Division I (6-5A) and Division II (4-1A). As well, the top-16 girls advanced from regionals held Feb. 13.
Normally, those 16 would go to state. This winter, COVID-19 social distancing measures yield a sub-state round that winnowed the field from 16 to eight. Top-four from the West and East regionals formed the state bracket.
Division I state is held at Hartman Arena on Thursday. Start time is noon.
For Pittsburg, Jones (7-11) earned fourth and earned her state berth in dramatic fashion with an upset win.
Jones lost her first match with a 6-0 decision and then won by fall in 25 seconds. The consolation semifinal winners determined the final two state qualifiers. Jones beat Topeka Seaman junior Rylee Murray, 5-4, in ultimate tiebreaker. Murray was 20-5 and ranked fifth in the Feb. 16 rankings by the Kansas Wrestling Coaches Association.
Then, Jones lost by fall in the third-place match.
At 155, sophomore Daphine Samayoa (4-12) nearly qualified, though took sixth. She lost 8-7 in the consolation semifinals.
At 170, Angeles (10-7) finished fourth. Like Jones, she benefited from a one-point win. This time, she beat Emporia’s Kiana Flores-Delgado, 2-1, in the first round. After a loss, Angeles earned a state trip with a fall in 2:19. Overall, Pittsburg was 16th place with 23 points.
The week prior, Angeles became the first regional champion in Pittsburg girls’ wrestling annals. Jones has wrestled all four years.
Last season, in the all-classes East regional, Jones went 3-2 at 116 and finished 15-12. Angeles finished 2-2 at 170 and completed a 10-8 year.
Additionally, Pittsburg boys qualified a pair of wrestlers into the eight-player state bracket. At the De Soto sub-state, Cruz Lopez (18-6) and Matt Smith (22-8) finished fourth at 113 and 160, respectively.
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