Scotts Valley High senior Danica Kelley currently owns a perfect 16-0 overall record this season including a 4-0 finish at the Ladies Coast Classic at Santa Cruz High on Jan. 13. (contributed)

Scotts Valley High senior Danica Kelley has been on a tear since the beginning of the 2023 wrestling campaign, taking opponents down to the mat one by one in dominating fashion.  

The Falcons’ wrestling star went 4-0 en route to a first-place finish in the 138-pound weight division at the 2024 MidCals Tournament at Gilroy High on Jan. 19-20.

In the second round, Kelley pinned North Salinas’ Hailey Aguayo in a blazing 17 seconds, followed by three straight pins over Mt. View High’s Liberty Evans (59 seconds), Clovis North High’s Braya Cruz (0:24) and Gilroy High’s Mary Jane Porter (3:00) in the championship bout.

“I like getting a mix of local tournaments and kind of bigger tournaments throughout the season, and the fact that we have a pretty competitive tournament in our area is a good thing,” said Kelley, who improved to an impressive 16-0 overall record this season. 

Kelley won the 135-pound weight division at the Ladies Coast Classic at Santa Cruz High on Jan. 13. Her fastest win by fall came in 47 seconds. 

Scotts Valley head coach Nick Reyes said Kelley just always seems composed and calm, especially when she’s gone down early in matches, including at last week’s tourney in Gilroy.

Reyes said being calm and focused is nothing new for Kelley. Yet, there’s been several times this season when she trails in a bout but she never panics and continues to battle in her style of wrestling. 

“The fact that she just continues to wrestle and doesn’t let anything really get into her mental state, [Kelley’s] just not really fazed,” Reyes said.

It is another down season for Scotts Valley in terms of participation. The girls’ team includes the same four returners in Kelley, senior Kayse Martinovsky and sophomores Citlali Lopez and Lila Mosley.

Martinovsky took fourth in the 143-pound weight division at last week’s MidCals, while Lopez (113 pounds) lost to Rancho San Juan High’s Gabriela Cardenas and Mosley (101) fell to RSJ’s Carolina Zepeda in the second round of the consolation bracket.

The Falcons placed 14th as a team with a score of 52. Alisal won the team title with 140.0 points, followed by Gilroy (127.0 points) in second and Central Catholic (138.0) took third.

“They’re not seeing the results that they want,” Reyes said. “But, it’s more so in the mental state that I see more improvement as far as being more confident in themselves and just going out and trying to wrestle.”

Moseley and Lopez have been much more aggressive this season by not only winning matches, but also now they’re staying in some of the more challenging ones.

“They’re still kind of getting over that hump of trying to string some wins together,” Reyes said. 

The boys’ team had a promising start after nearly doubling in numbers with 21. However, several wrestlers couldn’t compete because of injury and some phased out, bringing the total back down to 13.

Leading the Falcons are junior Jace Thompson (135 pounds) and sophomore Angelo Vignato (129), who both lost in the fourth round of the consolation bracket at MidCals.

During the offseason, Thompson tagged along with Kelley and Martinovski to the Live Oak Wrestling Club with Harbor High head coach Jay Reyes.

“Definitely has improved tremendously, just from [Thompson’s] last year to now,” Reyes said. “He’s wrestling up in weight right now and I think it’s kind of hindering his capabilities. But regardless, he’s still competing with them and beating some kids that were at the weight class that he’s at.”

Dylan Moore, a sophomore, barely started wrestling in sixth grade and is now one of the rising stars in the 150-pound weight division for the Falcons.

“[Moore’s] been very, very good in my opinion as far as competing, being in the room learning,” Reyes said. “He picks up things very well and it’s been showing in his matches.” 

Others to look out for include Bobby Arcangeli (175 pounds), Elliot Nixon (165), Micaiah Trujillo (150) and Mason Solbes (144).

Kelley said her teammates are showing a real commitment this season and their tenacity has really improved.

“They know that they can win and they’re going out there in every match now with the idea of ‘I’m going to win this and I’m going to show them that I’m here,’ which is a great milestone in wrestling,” she said.

Reyes realizes there’s no chance for them to win a Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League title with such a small team going up against bigger programs, such as Aptos, Harbor, Santa Cruz, Soquel and rival San Lorenzo Valley.

His focus is getting the wrestlers ready for head-to-head bouts, getting them primed for the league and Central Coast Section championships.

Last season, Kelley and Martinovsky both punched their tickets to the CIF State Championships at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield.

“The goal is to really get them back to State. If we do that, it’s their third straight year doing it and hopefully get them some medals this time,” Reyes said. “Both of them have been itching to be able to stand on that podium.”

Kelley—the reigning CCS 121-pound weight division champion—wants to close out her senior year with a bang. The main goal is to go away feeling much more confident in her skills and overall performance. 

Yet, she’s more excited to see the wrestling program progress, especially on the girls side. She said perhaps one day she’ll look back to see the area gaining more traction with women’s wrestling.

Kelley began talking to colleges this past summer in hopes of continuing her wrestling career. So far, she’s received offers from four schools she applied to and isn’t necessarily leaning toward one.

“I’m finally seeing this dream that I started having in middle school start coming to fruition,” Kelley said. “It’s been exciting for me and the rest of my family and my coaches. It’s been really great.”

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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.


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