For the first time, we have an overall state girls athlete of the year who is mostly single-sport with that sport being wrestling. Selma’s Gracie Figueroa is not just a four-time CIF state champion, either. She can literally can call herself the best “pound-for-pound” athlete in the nation in her sport. And if you haven’t heard of the Figueroa family in wrestling, they’re probably not close to being done winning CIF state crowns.
For the rundown on the other 2017-18 State Girls Athletes of the Year, CLICK HERE.
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It turns out that there are a lot of firsts in the announcement of Selma High wrestling phenom Gracie Figueroa as the 2017-18 Cal-Hi Sports State Girls Athlete of the Year. She’s the first girl from a CIF Central Section school to appear on the all-time state list (which goes back more than 100 years) and she’s the first mostly single-sport wrestler to gain the nod as well. Most single-sport previous honorees have been from track-and-field and swimming.
But that’s not all of the firsts for Figueroa. Last year, she became the first woman to win UWW Cadet and UWW Junior National titles in the same weekend, winning one title in the 56 kg class and the other at 59 kg. And last fall, Gracie won the first-ever female match at the FloWrestling Who’s #1 tournament held in Bethlehem, Pa. She won a match in which the winner would be called the best “pound-for-pound” girls’ wrestler in the nation. She defeated a Cadet national champion from Wisconsin, Macey Kitty, in that match 6-4. We tried to figure out if there were any other California girls who might perhaps be the best “pound-for-pound” performer in their sport in the nation and do not believe there was one.
Figueroa will perhaps best be remembered at Selma High for what she did at the CIF state championships and for making the Bears as dominant in girls wrestling as a program as Buchanan of Clovis for the boys (three straight team titles).
Co-starring with teammate Alleida Martinez at the CIF finals, Figueroa won this year’s title at 121 pounds with a 9-0 victory over Caitlin Cardenas of Corona. It was her fourth straight CIF state title, an individual achievement done by just three others, including Martinez.
Both Selma girls were remarkable, but Figueroa had an even more impressive career record (193-0) and this season she went 33-0. Martinez also was unbeaten this year and was reported with more than 100 career wins without a loss. Figueroa also has done more in international competitions. With those two and others, the Bears piled up 142 points in team scoring at the state meet to easily top second-place Northview of Covina (85).
Figueroa, who played girls volleyball at Selma last fall (although that wasn’t a factor at all in her being chosen), also made history at the CIF finals for becoming the first girl to win four individual state titles in four different weight classes. Those titles came at 111 pounds in 2015, 116 pounds in 2016, 126 pounds in 2017 and 121 this year.
Both Figueroa and Martinez have signed to wrestle and attend Menlo College in the Bay Area. For those who don’t know much about collegiate women’s wrestling, the Oaks have been nationally ranked in that sport and hope with these two from Selma that they can win their first national title.
When their signing was announced, Menlo College reported in its press release that Gracie was a two-time Cadet Women’s Freestyle national champion and has represented the USA four times at age-group world championships, including one bronze medal in 2016.
Speaking of Cadet World Championships, Gracie’s younger brother, Richard, recently returned from this year’s version of that event with a silver medal. Richard, who won the CIF state title in his weight class as a freshman and earlier this week was named the State Freshman Athlete of the Year, topped a Russian in the semifinals and lost to a youngster from Azerbaijan in the final. With Richard having three more years at Selma, three more CIF state individual titles seems like a very achievable goal for him. He and Gracie already are the first brother-sister combo to win CIF state titles in wrestling.
As a pinned tweet for more than two years, Figueroa says, “My goal is to be on top of the podium at worlds hearing the USA national anthem play and finally getting to tell myself that I am the best.”
We can’t wait for that moment, too, but before that you can be happy that for your senior year you were viewed as being on top of the podium among all California high school girls athletes, regardless of school size or year in school.
ALL-TIME CAL-HI SPORTS
STATE GIRLS ATHLETES OF THE YEAR
(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)
2017-18 – Gracie Figueroa, Selma (wrestling)
2016-17 – Tara Davis, Agoura Hills Agoura (track)
2015-16 – Elena Bruckner, San Jose Valley Christian (track, volleyball)
2014-15 – Abbey Weitzeil, Saugus (swimming)
2013-14 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2012-13 – Chelsea Chenault, Concord Carondelet (swimming)
2011-12 – Kyla Ross, Aliso Viejo Aliso Niguel (gymnastics)
2010-11 – Maggie Steffens, Danville Monte Vista (water polo)
2009-10 – Ashton Purvis, Oakland St. Elizabeth (track)
2008-09 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track)
2007-08 – Jordan Hasay, San Luis Obispo Mission Prep (track) Jr.
2006-07 – Alix Klineman, Manhattan Beach Mira Costa (volleyball)
2005-06 – Jayne Appel, Concord Carondelet (water polo, basketball)
2004-05 – Jessica Hardy, Long Beach Wilson (swimming)
2003-04 – Candice Wiggins, La Jolla Country Day (volleyball, basketball)
2002-03 – Alyson Felix, North Hills L.A. Baptist (track)
2001-02 – Julia Pitts, Torrance North (volleyball, basketball, track)
2000-01 – Lashinda Demus, Long Beach Wilson (track)
1999-00 – Monique Henderson, San Diego Morse (track) Jr.
1998-99 – Rometra Craig, San Jose Mitty (basketball, tae kwon do, track) Jr.
1997-98 – Amanda Freed, Garden Grove Pacifica (volleyball, soccer, baseball)
1996-97 – Tayyiba Haneef, Laguna Hills (volleyball, basketball, track)
1995-96 – Kerri Walsh, San Jose Mitty (volleyball, basketball)
1994-95 – Marcy Crouch, Huntington Beach Marina (soccer, softball)
1993-94 – Suzy Powell, Modesto Downey (basketball, track)
1992-93 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track)
1991-92 – Marion Jones, Thousand Oaks (basketball, track) Jr.
1990-91 – Marion Jones, Oxnard Rio Mesa (basketball, track) Soph.
1989-90 – Lisa Leslie, Inglewood Morningside (basketball, track)
1988-89 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming)
1987-88 – Janet Evans, Placentia El Dorado (swimming) Jr.
1986-87 – Michele Granger, Placentia Valencia (softball)
1985-86 – Terri Mann, San Diego Point Loma (basketball, track)
1984-85 – Elaina Oden, Irvine (volleyball, track)
1983-84 – Wendy Brown, Woodside (basketball, track)
1982-83 – Wendy Wyland, Mission Viejo (diving)
1981-82 – Denean Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1980-81 – Cheryl Miller, Riverside Polytechnic (basketball)
1979-80 – Sherri Howard, Granada Hills Kennedy (track)
1978-79 – Cynthia Woodhead, Riverside Polytechnic (swimming)
1977-78 – Tracy Austin, Rolling Hills (tennis)
1976-77 – Linda Fratianne, Van Nuys Valley Professional (figure skating)
1975-76 – Jill Sterkel, Hacienda Heights Wilson (swimming)
1974-75 – Barbara Reinalda, Cerritos Valley Christian (basketball, softball)
1973-74 – Mary Decker, Orange (track)
1972-73 – Keena Rothhammer, Santa Clara (swimming)
1971-72 – Mable Fergerson, Pomona Ganesha (track)
1970-71 – Laura Baugh, Long Beach Wilson (golf)
1969-70 – Cathy Rigby, Los Alamitos (gymnastics)
1968-69 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1967-68 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1966-67 – Debbie Meyer, Sacramento Rio Americano (swimming)
1965-66 – Charlotte Cooke, Compton (track)
1964-65 – Peggy Fleming, Pasadena (figure skating)
1963-64 – Sharon Stouder, Glendora (swimming)
1962-63 – Donna de Varona, Santa Clara (swimming)
1961-62 – Carolyn House, Los Angeles Marshall (swimming)
1960-61 – Billie Jean King, Long Beach Poly (tennis)*
1959-60 – Chris von Saltza, Los Gatos (swimming)
1958-59 – Karen Hantze, San Diego Mission Bay (tennis)
1957-58 – Sylvia Ruuska, Berkeley (swimming)
1956-57 – Barbara Ann Roles, Arcadia (figure skating)
1955-56 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1954-55 – Mimi Arnold, Redwood City Sequoia (tennis)
1953-54 – Carol Tait, Atherton Menlo-Atherton (swimming)
1952-53 – Barbara Stark, Lafayette Acalanes (swimming)
1951-52 – Paula Jean Myers, Covina (diving)
1950-51 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1949-50 – Maureen Connolly, San Diego Cathedral (tennis)
1948-49 – Marlene Bauer, L.A. unknown (golf)
1947-48 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1946-47 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1945-46 – Zoe Ann Olsen, Oakland (diving)
1944-45 – Nancy Chaffee, Ventura (tennis)
1943-44 – Jean Doyle, San Diego Point Loma (tennis)
1942-43 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1941-42 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1940-41 – Ann Curtis, S.F. Washington (swimming)
1939-40 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1938-39 – Esther Williams, L.A. Washington (swimming)
1937-38 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1936-37 – Margorie Gestring, Los Angeles (diving)
1935-36 – Peggy Graham, Beverly Hills (golf)
1934-35 – Margaret Osborne, S.F. Commerce (tennis)
1933-34 – Florence Chadwick, San Diego Hoover (rough water swimming)
1932-33 – Dorothy Poynton, L.A. Fairfax (diving)
1931-32 – Evelyn Furtsch, Tustin (track)
1930-31 – Alice Marble, S.F. Polytechnic (tennis)
1929-30 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1928-29 – Gloria Russell, Berkeley (track)
1927-28 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1926-27 – Georgia Coleman, L.A. Polytechnic (diving)
1925-26 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1924-25 – Eleanor Garatti, San Rafael (swimming)
1923-24 – Helen Jacobs, Berkeley (tennis)
1922-23 – Helen Wills, Berkeley Miss Anna Head’s School (tennis)
1921-22 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1920-21 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
1919-20 – Helen Wills, Berkeley unknown (tennis)
*Known as Billie Jean Moffitt while in high school.
Note: All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: