Winter Sports CIF Highlights

Lizzy Martinez, Co-Business Manager

Downey High School’s winter sports season has come to an end, but girls’ water polo, girls’ basketball, and boys’ soccer all advanced in CIF.  The student athletes prepared for CIF all season and the time came to showcase their work.


Although winter sports after CIF will be done by March 3, the case is very different for wrestling. Downey wrestlers are currently preparing for Masters which will allow them to qualify for State and then Nationals. Dilan Ajtun, 12, and Jonathan Prata, 12, are two wrestlers who placed first in their division for CIF and became CIF champions alongside with Matthew Morales, 11.


Jonathan Prata,12, won CIF last year for his division and speaks about returning once again to wrestle at CIF.


“I treat it as another tournament to dominate, and I think we’ve gotten this far through all the extra work we put in,” Prata said. “Being aggressive with our team mates helps because you just need to know how one person can be beat and then you both fight for the same goal.”


Another returning wrestler, Dilan Ajtun,12, and CIF Champion also speaks about the different training he has done to achieve his goals this season.


“I was more consistent with my diet, focus on technique rather than working on cardio and lifting,” Ajtun said. “I also came into this season with a different mental approach. I am more relaxed and ready to wrestle.”


He also explains the difference of this year’s season from last. “This year we have to be role models and show teammates that you can be successful by doing the right thing,” Dilan Ajtun said.


Jonathan Prata, Dilan Ajtun, and Roland Dominguez are all qualifiers for State Championship and will be wrestling for State on March 2-3, and Jonathan Prata is also now a Masters Champion.


They wrestled in State and Jonathan Prata placed third at State, Dilan Ajtun placed eighth.


Alongside wrestling, girls water polo is another winter sport that progressed in the CIF rounds. Last year, the team did not qualify for  finals and this year they have advanced to the championship. They beat Sunny Hills, with a score of 12-9, at semi-finals.


Madison Hinojosa, 12, transferred from Schurr High School for her senior year, but she has been playing water polo since she was a child.


“Coming here I realized I am much closer to the girls here because we believe in each other and work hard together at practice,” Hinojosa said. “I kept myself and the team motivated through my positive attitude. Before the semifinals, I told the girls about my experience winning CIF last year with Schurr and how it was the best experience ever, and I told the girls that anything is achievable.”


Zelia Hellmold,12, is the team’s goalie and has been for two years now.


“Advancing to the championships has been surreal because of our tough loss last year. But coming into this season we learned to communicate much better with each other,” Hellmold said. “I freaked out during semi finals because Sunny Hills tying the game, but we realized we are almost there and we pulled through.”


Girls’ water polo lost at the championship to Notre Dame on Feb. 24 to a score of 9-8. They placed second in Division 5 at the CIF Championship.


Girls’ basketball is also advancing in CIF rounds in their season.  Surie Camacho,11, has been in playing for the varsity team for three years now and will be playing in CIF for the third year as well.


“We may be really fast, but we play with our hearts and together,” Camacho said. “Because of all the experience I’ve gained playing throughout the years, and I’ve pushed myself more this year in order to achieve more in the season.”


Alyssa Nevarez is the team’s center player and has been on varsity for 2 years and speaks about what helped them achieve this far into CIF rounds. “We have gotten this far because we stay calm even against tough opponents, and we have a great support system between the girls and the coaches,” Nevarez said. “In the playoffs, I learned to not let my nerves get the best of me and to give every game my all because you never know which one will be your last.”


Girls’ basketball has advanced to CIF Finals and will be playing Glendora on March 2 at Azusa Pacific University at 8 p.m.  


Alongside these sports, boys’ soccer was also able to make it up to Quarter Finals against Loyola on Feb. 24, and lost with a score of 2-0.


Francisco Banuelos, 11, is one of the team’s forwards and has been on varsity for 2 years. He remembers playing at CIF last year and how the team has evolved.


“This year we all really trusted each other and like if you needed help during the game, you knew someone was there to cover you and help.” Banuelos said. “I learned these past two years playing for varsity that you can’t take a team for granted, you may think they are an easy win, but they can surprise you and you have to work hard against every team.”


Nicholas Correa,12, is another of the team’s forward and has been on varsity for 3 years and speaks about playing in CIF.


“It was great experience even though we didn’t advance. The level of the play is a lot more competitive and everything is on the line for each game you play,” Correa said. “I think our dedication to the team and each other and our desire to win and play to the best of our abilities pushed us to get this far.”


Winter sports have come to an end as girls’ basketball plays their final game for the season on March 2.They lost to Glendora with a score of 47-35, but will be moving on to CIF State Division 2 playoffs. They will play on March 6 against Westview High School at 7 p.m. Winter sports have ended and spring sports will commence at Downey High School.