Scotts Valley High junior Danica Kelley raises her hand following a victory in the 121-pound weight class championship at the Central Coast Section Masters Meet at Watsonville High on Feb. 18, 2023. (Juan Reyes/Press Banner)

Scotts Valley High junior Danica Kelley had plenty of time to kill before she was called up to her finale at last week’s Central Coast Section wrestling championships.

In order to stay ready, she hopped around, splashed cold water on her face and even took a nap as volunteers helped set up the mats for the final round.   

But the two-hour delay had no effect on Kelley, who pinned Gunn High senior Helene Jose in two minutes to capture the 121-pound weight class title during the Masters Finals at Watsonville High School on Feb. 18.

“I feel relieved,” she said. “I was getting tired because these tournaments run so long, but I’m just happy that it’s over. Now I’m on to State, it’s a good feeling.”

With the win, she punched her ticket to the CIF State Championships at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield on Feb. 23-25. The top four girls in each weight class qualified for the state finals.

Scotts Valley junior Kayse Martinovsky (131 pounds) dropped her third-place match to Fremont High sophomore Aila Duus in a 6-4 decision. 

“Definitely not the results I wanted after placing fourth last year in the CCS Championships and was seeded No. 1,” Martinovsky said. “I was hoping to make it to the finals and win the finals, but it didn’t go as planned.”

Still, both Falcons wrestlers qualified for a trip to this week’s state finals.

Scotts Valley coach Nick Reyes said they put in a lot of hard work during the offseason and had a goal in mind this year of being in this very same position. 

“They came in and did what they needed to do and we’re going back to the show, and hopefully come out with some medals or even more,” he said. “That’s kind of the expectation we had going into the season.”

Kelley was in a tight match with Jose, and at one point the score was tied at 4-4 before she was able to pin her opponent at the very last second. She was expecting a battle from the start and was able to get some pointers by talking to other girls that had wrestled Jose in the past.

“They said I was stronger than [Jose] but that she could catch people if they made a bad move,” Kelley said. “I knew that it would probably be a rough match, but it went better than I expected.”

Reyes said that Kelley—who tends to be very calm and composed most of the time—is not like a lot of wrestlers.

“You can’t quite read her,” he said. 

He also mentioned how she uses her strength as an advantage to be a great leg rider and has powerful hips to apply great pressure to her opponents.

“It’s great for her to get that title finally and I think she’s going to have big things coming at the State meet,” Reyes said.

Martinovsky advanced to the semifinals before falling to Gilroy High junior Mary Jane Porter, who won the championship over Monterey High sophomore Ella Myers.

During the semifinals match, Martinovsky re-injured her right knee but managed to compete through the pain, knowing she had to wrestle her best after getting bumped down to the consolation bracket.

“I’m satisfied with my performance. I know that it wasn’t the lack of hard work or anything like that,” she said. 

Martinovsky tore her ACL last season and the injury set her back not just physically but mentally. Still, she said it’s not an excuse for last week’s performance and plans to bounce back at the State finals.

Plus, she mentioned how it taught her to persevere through a lot of matches, especially getting through some tough ones and knowing it could be done.

“I can definitely say that I did want it more in a bunch of matches,” Martinovsky said. “My coaches always stress that it’s always who wants it more at the end of the day and I feel like I want it more. Not just today but throughout my season.”

Martinovsky is thrilled to return to the CIF State Championships with whom she calls her “partner in crime.” They made the trek together to the 2022 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U National Championships in Fargo, N.D., where both competed against some of the best wrestlers in the nation.

“It’s going to be super fun to just not only wrestle there, but just be with her and have a great time, gonna kill it,” Martinovsky said.

Kelley has her eyes set on winning the coveted state title, which is one of her goals before leaving high school. She’s currently ranked No. 11 in the 118-pound weight class, but she’s going to enter the State finals at 121-pounds. 

“It makes me think about the girls that came before me, like Dominique Parrish and Gabby Sandoval,” Kelley said. “They started winning State around this time.” 

Reyes said at this point there’s really nothing much to say to Scotts Valley’s dynamic duo that they haven’t heard already. He believes in sticking with what they’re good at and perhaps maybe polishing up some of the minor details. 

“You did good things to be here, so there’s no reason to try to mix things up,” he said. “Kind of clean some stuff up here and there, but really it’s just sticking to the basics and good things will come.”

Previous articleSeahawks revamp coaching staff for new season | College baseball
Next articleThe Mountain Gardener | We Are All Phenologists at Heart
A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here