ELLENSBURG - Trailing defending Mid-Valley League champion Ellensburg by a slim 28-23 score with just two bouts remaining last night, the Sunnyside High School wrestling team was unable to pull off the upset on the Bulldogs' home mat.
The Grizzlies found themselves in a 28-3 hole through the first seven matches of the night, but rallied with five consecutive victories to cut Ellensburg's lead to just five points. Unfortunately for Sunnyside, Ellensburg had their two "big dogs" ready and waiting to go.
The first, 130-pounder Tyler McGee, clinched the team victory for the 'Dogs by claiming a 17-1 technical fall against Sunnyside's Jose Salinas. Ellensburg's Joe Savage put the icing on the cake for the Bulldogs by pinning Salinas' brother, Juan, towards the end of the second round of their 135-lb. match.
Tuesday evening's competition started out at 140 lbs. Ward Hodge got the Bulldogs on the scoreboard first by decisioning Grizzly Omar Magana, 7-3. Magana forged a 3-0 lead on Hodge with a takedown in the first round and an escape in the third period, but Hodge turned the Grizzly onto his back late in the match to account for the final score.
Nick Newton (145 lbs.) made it two in a row for the 'Dogs via his 12-1 major decision over Lionel Candido. Newton registered three near falls, two in the opening period, against Candido.
At 152 lbs., Ellensburg's Jordan Faldwell decisioned Michael Graham 11-3 for the Bulldogs' third consecutive win of the night.
Sunnyside stopped the bleeding when Victor Moreno (160 lbs.) edged Sam Bales by an 8-3 score to get the Grizzlies on the scoreboard.
Ellensburg fired right back with three straight wins, though, to stretch its lead out to 28-3. During that span, the Bulldogs got a 17-2 technical fall by Zack Haberman over Franky Candido at 171 lbs., a pin by Peyton Simpson over Carlos Garza-Padilla at 189 lbs. and a pin by Luke Yarwood over Casey Smith at 215 lbs.
But, the Grizzlies refused to fold.
Starting the comeback for Sunnyside was Pete Garza (275 lbs.), who decisioned Bubba Michael 9-3. Isaac Romero followed suit for the Grizzlies, pinning Ryan Bowen in their 103-lb. match to draw Sunnyside within 28-12. Ricardo Rivera (112 lbs.) made it three straight for Sunnyside with a tight 2-0 win over Tyler Carter. Steve Sanchez (119 lbs.) had less difficulty with his Ellensburg opponent, Chase Haberman, in his 18-3 technical fall victory. Giving Sunnyside its fifth consecutive victory was the freshman Joseph Villanueva, who edged Jack Barry by a 6-4 score in their 125-lb. match. Villanueva's win drew the Grizzlies to within 28-23 of Ellensburg.
But, McGee and Savage thwarted Sunnyside's come-from-behind efforts by winning the final two bouts of the night.
Yesterday's loss squared Sunnyside's Mid-Valley League record at 1-1. Ellensburg, which already has sustained a defeat at the hands of West Valley, is also 1-1 in conference play.
In JV action Tuesday, which proved to be a 66-37 win by the host Bulldogs, claiming wins for Sunnyside were J.T. Gonzalez at 103 lbs., Tomas Pena at 130 lbs., Sam Bardell at 140 lbs., Zeke Galvan at 145 lbs., Ulysses Olivarez at 152 lbs., James Van Wingerden at 171 lbs. and Daniel Cruz at 275 lbs.