Wrestler Lauren Aguilar brings home historic CCS Northern Regionals title


Photo courtesy of Lauren Aguilar

Sophomore Lauren Aguilar shows off her Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) wrestler-of-the-meet plaque and placement medal, following the PAL championship tournament in South San Francisco on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Zach Shapiro, Staff Reporter

It is now two years in a row that a wrestler hailing from Burlingame has brought home a Central Coast Section (CCS) Individual championship. Current Iowa State University wrestler Xavier Bruening made a historic heavyweight run last year. This year, star sophomore Lauren Aguilar reached sectional stardom.

And how sweet it is. 

Aguilar’s achievement is only more impressive considering the circumstances. Last season the girls’ side of the program faltered halfway through the season when the two girls on the roster left the team. As a result, many were unsure how the program would fare this year. 

Aguilar would’ve been largely unaffected if not for her transfer from Capuchino High School to Burlingame for her sophomore year. The question mark at the coaching position may have been a concern for a wrestling-dedicated Aguilar, but following the former head coach’s departure, the promotion of Ernesto Nuñez into the vacant spot brought a massive spark to the program.

“Being in a room with coach [Nuñez] and assistant coach Gio is an incredible, incredible experience,” Aguilar said. “They make the sport really fun.”

With a new coaching staff and an evolving roster, the odds were stacked against the Burlingame squad all season. The main concern was a lack of experience, with few seniors and not many returnees from the 2022 roster. However, younger players emerged as the season went on, capped off by Aguilar’s playoff performance.

Going into the PAL tournament, Aguilar was no underdog, with the pressure on her as the No. 1 seed. 

“I wasn’t surprised by it, but I was also excited,” Aguilar said.

Because of the bracket structure, the only people in the way of a spot in the league championship were two people she had already pinned in previous matches. With that confidence in mind, she marched on to the finals,  matching up with an unfamiliar wrestler.

“She was crazy tall, so I was a little intimidated,” Aguilar said. 

Regardless of the size difference, Aguilar continued her streak of dominance with a first period pin, officially allowing her to turn her mind towards the girls’ CCS Northern Regionals. 

In a busy week of preparation ahead of CCS, Aguilar traveled between schools to scrimmage against other wrestlers she’d already faced, which she noted made it easy to be bogged down. But she showed no signs of fatigue when the tournament arrived on Saturday, Feb. 11 and soared to the finals by pinning all of her opponents within the first two periods. 

Despite that momentum, the final match wasn’t so smooth sailing.

“My last match was crazy and a little scary,” Aguilar said. “I didn’t know if that was going to end my season then and there.”

In the first period, Aguilar landed on her head after being thrown, resulting in a stoppage so she could be evaluated for a concussion.

“I told my dad and coach [Nuñez] to put me back in because I wanted to make history for not only myself, but the school,” Aguilar said.

Aguilar went on to win by pin in the second period.

“It was the best feeling in the world,” Aguilar said.

It wasn’t always as effortless as Aguilar made it look in the playoffs. After being sidelined for half the season due to transfer rules, Aguilar had a hard time finding her rhythm on the wrestling mat. 

“At times, I thought I was going to quit,” Aguilar said.

The sacrifice that Aguilar has put into the sport made the stakes that much higher, as she travels nationally to compete in tournaments for various styles of wrestling. But she remained resilient, ultimately pulling through to a season finale three weeks after most wrestlers’ seasons were complete.  

She credits such resilience to the support of teammate Emmi Cate and the coaching staff. Now, with the high school season all wrapped up, Aguilar will turn her attention to offseason competition.

“For the offseason, my goal is to place at the Iowa National tournament,” Aguilar said. “I really want to work extra hard for it because no matter how hard you work, somebody is always going to be working harder.”