Gabe Lara's performance this past Saturday night in the 215-lb. Regional tournament championship match put an exclamation point on the season for the Sunnyside High School wrestling team.
Lara dominated the competition at Regionals, after a disappointing third place finish the previous weekend at Sub-regionals.
Behind Lara's 215-lb. title run, the Grizzlies took third place honors at Regionals with 121.5 points. Mid-Valley League champion Ellensburg took runner-up honors with 130 points and Clarkston, the No. 2 ranked 3A wrestling team in the State, complimented its Sub-regional title last week with a Regional title, totaling 158.5 points.
What is notable for the Grizzlies, who finished third in the Mid-Valley League standings, is that they are taking six of the seven wrestlers who qualified for Regionals to State this Friday and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Clarkston and Ellensburg are taking seven wrestlers apiece to State.
The Grizzlies captured three Regional titles.
"I thought we did pretty well," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus. "Everybody wrestled tough. They wrestled up to their potential."
The first of the Regional titles for Sunnyside came from Steven Sanchez at 112 lbs. Sanchez went 3-0 on the day, winning by forfeit over Vinh Tran of Highline in the finals. Tran forfeited his championship match when it was discovered he had symptoms resembling chicken pox, said Paulus. Sanchez won his opening match in 1:05 over Renton's Grant Fujii. Sanchez left no doubt this time around in a rematch from the Sub-regional semifinal match against Grandview's Nestor Soriano. Sanchez squeaked out a close victory over Soriano at Sub-regionals, but demolished the Greyhound senior this time around, winning by technical fall, 21-3. Sanchez had five takedowns in his semi-final match.
Soriano rebounded from the loss to Sanchez by pinning Bryce Line of Clarkston in 2:24 and then beat Nguyen 6-2 in the consolation championship.
The second Regional champion for Sunnyside was Joe Evans at 171 lbs. Evans racked up his third victory of the season over Selah nemesis Kyle Walker, winning 5-2 in the championship match. Evans had beaten Mt. Rainier's Travis Hollibaugh by pin in 1:24 in his first match. Evans then beat up Clarkston's Jared Cooper in the semi's, winning 9-2. Paulus said Evans wrestled smart late in the match against Walker.
The last Regional champ for Sunnyside was Lara at 215 lbs. Lara embarrassed Mt. Rainier's Alex Georgiadis in the finals, winning by pin in 1:00. The Mt. Rainier wrestler spent most of the championship match on his back, as Lara battled for position to get the pin. Lara beat Tyee's Eddie Moore in 3:59 of his opening bout. Lara then won his semi-final match in grand fashion, pinning Ellensburg's Cade Lillquist in 1:39. The most impressive part about Lara's efforts, said Paulus, was that he pinned all three of his opponents.
Sunnyside's Ray Romero suffered just his second defeat of the season in the championship match at 145 lbs. Romero lost 5-3 to Ellensburg's Kameron Beedle in the finals. Romero trailed 4-3 late in the match when he had to let Beedle go in hopes of getting the takedown to tie the match. Beedle, who wrestled a strong match, never let Romero get into a rhythm on the mat as he pulled off the upset. Romero won his opening match by pin in 1:20 over Tim Colbern of Mt. Rainier. Romero then followed up with a 4-2 victory over Thomas Whitum of Clarkston in the semifinal match.
Sunnyside also had freshman Ricardo Rivera qualify for State, at 103 lbs. Rivera, a freshman, won the consolation championship with a 5-4 decision over Kodey Desjarda of Clarkston. Rivera's only loss was to the eventual 103-lb. champion, Deven Stelter-Moorman of West Valley-Yakima. Rivera lost in 3:06 in the semifinal match.
Sunnyside heavyweight Pete Garza finished fourth for the Grizzlies. Garza lost 8-6 in the consolation championship to Kennedy's Brian Clapp. Clapp had beaten Garza 12-7 earlier in the day in a first round match. Paulus said Garza rebounded well from his first round match and did much better his second time against Clapp.
After opening with a dominating 10-2 decision over Sophirith Dorn of Highline at 140 lbs., Sunnyside's Rudy Martinez wasn't able to get anything going. Martinez lost a tough 4-2 decision to Colt Heger of Clarkston in the semi's. Heger went on to win the 140-lb. championship. Martinez lost a heartbreaking 7-5 decision to Selah's A.J. Martinez in the match to move on to the consolation championship. Dorn then beat Martinez 6-2 in the match for fifth and sixth.
"Rudy has nothing to be ashamed of," said Paulus. "He did well."
Paulus is hoping to get a large crowd from Sunnyside over to State in what should be a good weekend for the Grizzlies.
"Hopefully, people in Sunnyside will come over and watch something pretty cool," said Paulus.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at email@example.com
3A Regional IV Championship
1 - Clarkston 158.5
2 - Ellensburg 130
3 - Sunnyside 121.5
4 - Highline 108.5
5 - Cheney 93
6 - Mt. Rainier 76.5
7 - Prosser 75.5
8 - Selah 68.5
9 - West Valley-Yakima 63.5
10 - Hanford 58
11 - Tyee 47
12 - Renton 32
12 - Wapato 32
14 - West Valley-Spokane 27
15 - Kennedy 23
16 - Hazen 16
16 - Grandview 16