SELAH - For Sunnyside High School wrestling coach George Paulus, the wins just keep coming. Last night in Selah, Paulus picked up his 150th dual meet victory of his career.
And, the 150th win couldn't have been much sweeter, considering Thursday evening's match was the Mid-Valley League opener for his Grizzlies. Sunnyside topped the Vikings by a 46-21 score.
Paulus, beginning his 19th season as head coach of the Grizzly wrestling program, has averaged more than eight dual meet victories a year during his tenure. With only 10 or so dual meets scheduled each season, that's a winning percentage of about .825.
In besting Selah last night, Paulus's Grizzlies won nine of the 14 individual bouts.
The match of the night, said Paulus, came at 119 lbs. Sophomore J.T. Gonzalez was trailing Selah's Carlos Torres by two points in the late going, but scored a takedown in the final 10 seconds of regulation to force an overtime period. Gonzalez used the momentum to score another 2-point takedown in the sudden death OT period, pulling out the come-from-behind victory, 7-5.
Sunnyside won four of the first five matches of the night to jump out to a 23-6 lead.
The action started at 145 lbs., with Zeke Galvan pinning Selah's Levi Garcia with only one second remaining in the opening period. Galvan was up 2-0 on Garcia at the time of the fall.
Michael Graham made it two victories in a row for the Grizzlies, as he followed up with a 20-4 technical fall win over Willie Hayes. Graham ended up scoring four near falls in the 152-lb. match.
Shane Scott of Selah broke the ice for the Vikings, scoring a pin over Adolfo Blanco in the 160-lb. bout to draw Selah to within 12-6, but the Grizzlies countered with a pair of pins by James Van Wingerden (171 lbs.) and Aaron Blanco (189 lbs.) to regain control of the match. Both, Van Wingerden and Blanco were leading their opponents by 5-0 scores at the time of the pins.
At 215 lbs., Selah notched its second win of the night, when Danny Escamilla eked out a 7-1 victory over Kyle Tyler.
"The Escamilla kid is pretty tough," said Paulus. "Kyle did well against him. It was a close match all the way through."
The Vikings were headed for a potential second straight win, but Angelo Salazar, at 275 lbs., scored a reversal against Selah's Chris Brazael with seven seconds showing on the clock to pull out a 7-5 victory for Sunnyside. That win upped the Grizzlies' lead to 26-9.
Sunnyside used Salazar's late-match heroics as a spark, reeling off four additional victories in a row to sock the team win away. Those wins came from Isaac Romero at 103 lbs., who pinned Shane Merrit in 3:44; from Ricardo Rivera at 112 lbs., who won by forfeit; from Gonzalez at 119 lbs.; and from Steve Sanchez at 125 lbs., who scored an 18-3 technical fall against Casey Brody.
Selah won the last three bouts of the night, at 130, 135 and 140 lbs., to close Sunnyside's final margin of victory to 46-21.
In JV action last night, the Grizzly winners, all of whom won by pins, included Victor Reyes at both 125 and 130 lbs., A.J. Rodeles at 145 lbs., Jeff Van Wingerden at 152 lbs., Jesus Mendoza at 152 lbs., Joey Tristan at 160 lbs. and Fil Cervantes at 160 lbs.
Sunnyside's varsity is scheduled to compete at the Mt. Vernon Invitational tomorrow (Saturday), and will then be out of action until the Hanford Invitational rolls around on Dec. 28.