GRANGER - Expectations for the season rose sharply for the Mabton High School wrestling team following Saturday's performance at the annual Granger Ironman Invitational.
The Vikings won six individual titles enroute to claiming top honors in the Ironman affair. Mabton totaled 183 points at the 10-school competition. The Pasco JV was a distant second with 155 points, followed by White Swan in third and the Sunnyside JV in fourth place.
"We had an excellent day," admitted Mabton Coach John Kilian. "It was almost too good to believe.
"I had to go outside the next morning and get the newspaper and check it out, to make sure I hadn't dreamt it," he laughed.
The six individual championships Mabton gleaned from the tourney included the performance of sophomore Robert Marquez. Named the tourney MVP, Marquez upset highly regarded Eric Lopez of Granger 7-5 in the finals of the 275-lb. bout. Lopez placed fifth at the Class 'A-B' State tournament last season. Marquez's 7-5 win over Lopez included turning the Granger wrestler onto his back for three near fall points.
"The whole crowd got into that match," said Kilian. "It was a great win for Robert."
Another Mabton wrestler who turned in an impressive performance Saturday was Moises Gutierrez. Enroute to winning the 152-lb. title, Gutierrez pinned all four of his opponents. In the finals, he claimed his fourth fall of the day against White Swan's Lupe Isaacs, that coming two-third's of the way through the opening period.
Also winning first place honors were Mabton's Andy Torres (119 lbs.), Marco Zepeda (135 lbs.), Michael Clark (140 lbs.) and Jovani Ochoa (145 lbs.).
Torres bested Sunnyside's Victor Reyes in the finals, piling up three near falls enroute to winning by a 14-3 score.
Zepeda scored a reversal with two seconds remaining in his finals match against Wes Holden of Kittitas to pull out a 10-8 victory.
Clark, who forged a 9-3 lead on Zack Bogle of Highland in their finals bout, finished off the Scottie with just four seconds left in the second period via a pin.
Ochoa claimed a third round pin in his finals bout against Pasco's Skippy Fergen.
Mabton, too, received a second place finish from Cesar Macedo at 160 lbs. Macedo came out on the short end of a 7-3 score in the championship round against North Beach's Blake Coleman.
Luis Aviles, a Mabton freshman, won his consolation finals match against Alberto Molina of Granger by pin to settle for third place honors. Aviles wrestles at 112 lbs.
The one other Mabton grappler to place Saturday was 215-pounder Eli Perez, who grabbed a fourth place finish. Perez, who had a 3-2 record Saturday, did well, said Kilian, considering he wrestled up a weight.