By Zach Cavanagh
The Dana Hills wrestling season came to a close with two historic performances from Dolphins seniors from Thursday, Feb. 27 to Saturday, Feb. 29 in Bakersfield.
Josh Harkey was the first Dana Hills boys state podium finisher in 13 years, and Layla Donahoe produced the highest placement by a Dana Hills girls wrestler in program history at the three-day CIF State Championships at the Mechanics Bank Area.
Harkey capped off his high school career as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Dana Hills history.
The Cal Poly San Luis Obispo-bound Harkey captured his second straight CIF-SS Coastal Division championship this season after earning another Coast View Conference championship. Harkey then posted his second straight top-four finish at the Masters Meet to qualify for State.
Harkey finished fifth at 195 pounds in the state championships to become the first Dolphin since Bobby Scofield finished third at 130 pounds as a senior in 2007.
Harkey made a run to the quarterfinals of the championship bracket with a pair of first-day wins. Harkey won by decision, 4-0, in the first round and recorded a fall in 51 seconds in the second round. Harkey, the No. 5 seed at 195 pounds, fell by decision, 5-0, in the quarterfinals to the No. 4 seed to move to the consolation bracket.
Harkey posted two more wins by decision, 6-4 and 7-2, to advance to the consolation semifinals, but the senior was downed by a decision win in a high-scoring match, 21-11. Harkey wrestled for fifth place and took a narrow decision win, 3-2, to claim a victory in his final match for Dana Hills.
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What a weekend!!! The dolphin team brought two individuals to the CIF State Tournament. Layla Donahoe fought hard making it to the top 16 in the state. The highest placing of any girl in the history of Dana Hills. And Josh Harkey battled all weekend to grab the 5th place on the podium. Becoming the first state placer in over 13 years. Huge congratulations to these two athletes in these accomplishments. Can not wait to see what they will do next.
In the girls 160-pound bracket, Donahoe placed in the top 16 for the highest girls finish in Dolphins history.
Donahoe claimed her second straight CIF-SS Southern Regional silver on Feb. 15 and finished seventh at the CIF-SS Championships for a second consecutive season to qualify for the state tournament.
At last season’s state meet, Donahoe lost both of her matches, which the senior said was because of a mistake. This season, Donahoe corrected that mistake right out of the gate.
Donahoe claimed victory by fall in one minute and 56 seconds in the first round to earn a second-round match against the No. 2 seed at 160 pounds. However, the No. 2 seed validated her ranking to defeat Donahoe by fall in one minute and 21 seconds.
In the consolation bracket, Donahoe got back on her feet with a win by decision, 8-0, but the senior wrestled her final match as a Dolphin in the ensuing round, falling in a one-point decision, 8-7.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.