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Grizzlies win ninth straight match to end the regular season

SELAH - After starting off the season 0-2, the Sunnyside High School wrestling team won its ninth consecutive dual meet match last night at Selah to end the regular season. The stretch of nine wins includes five consecutive Mid-Valley League wins.

The Grizzlies ended their 2003-04 conference campaign with a 5-2 mark, tied with West Valley. Sunnyside finishes third because it lost to the Rams in head-to-head competition earlier in the season. Ellensburg ended its perfect 7-0 run to capture the Mid-Valley League title with a convincing 43-16 victory over the Rams last night.

"It is kind of nice to see," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus of how his team rebounded from its rough start to the season. "They went out there and came together."

The Grizzlies finished off their impressive run through the Mid-Valley League last night with a 46-21 victory over Selah.

The evening began at 103 lbs. with Sunnyside's Ricardo Rivera losing in 3:11 to Selah's Kyle Folk, one of the Vikings' top wrestlers.

In only his second match of the season, Sunnyside's Steve Sanchez throttled Matt McPherson, winning by pin in 24 seconds at 112 lbs. Paulus was impressed with the effort from Sanchez last night.

Michael Christensen picked up an important victory in regards to postseason seeding last night at 119 lbs. Christensen won a 6-2 decision over Selah's Gus Ruben.

At 125 lbs., Sunnyside's Greg Burbidge lost in 1:22 to Rob Martinez, another of Selah's top wrestlers.

Eric Garcia got a nice win for the Grizzlies at 130 lbs., defeating Selah's Jake Harvey 9-4.

"Eric wrestled a solid match," said Paulus.

At 135 lbs., Sunnyside's Omar Magana lost 8-6 in overtime to Caleb Burton.

Rudy Martinez defeated Selah's best wrestler, A.J. Martinez, 8-6 at 140 lbs.

"That was a great match," said Paulus.

Martinez was comfortably ahead 7-2 going into the final round, and held on despite giving up some points to the Viking grappler in the final period. Martinez had three takedowns in the match.

At 145 lbs., Sunnyside's Ray Romero made it look like just another day at the office, as he pounded Selah's Kyle Miller. Romero improved to 26-1 on the season with his 19-5 victory over Miller. Romero had six takedowns in the match.

Michael Graham overcame a 7-2 deficit to pin Selah's Shane Scott in 3:02 at 152 lbs. Paulus said he was pleased with the effort from Graham.

Reece Paulus returned from an illness at 160 lbs. and made short work of Selah's P.J. Durand, winning in 43 seconds.

In the marquee match of the night, Sunnyside's Joe Evans squared off with Kyle Walker.

"We knew this was going to be the big one (for Joe) in the league," said Paulus. "It was a good match."

Evans overcame the Selah State tournament veteran, wining 4-3. Evans led 3-2 going into the final period. Evans got a point from Walker for stalling. Evans then gave up an escape to finish out the match.

Evans has a couple of impressive records going into Sub-regionals next week in Hanford. Evans has a 27-3 record on the season. He also commands the new school takedown record. A few weeks ago, Evans broke the former takedown record of 80. Evans' new record is 101 takedowns. The takedown mark is only calculated for the regular season, said Paulus.

Omar Magana lost at 189 lbs. to Selah's Ricky Hayes in 1:15.

At 215 lbs., Sunnyside's Gabe Lara seemed to enjoy his time out on the mat. Leading 15-6, Lara pinned Selah's Miguel Chavez in 5:07.

The night ended with a pretty good match at heavyweight, said Paulus. Sunnyside's Pete Garza defeated Tom Raney 13-9.

Up next for the Grizzly varsity is next week's Sub-regional tournament in Hanford. The junior varsity postseason qualifier is Saturday at Wapato. The seeding meeting for Sub-regionals will also be held on Saturday.

. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at mkantman@eaglenewspapers.com

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