SELAH - The Sunnyside High School wrestling team will be at least 24 strong when it heads off to Sub-Regional action this coming Friday.
Sunnyside's 14 varsity wrestlers, plus 10 Grizzlies who advanced from last Saturday's JV Wrestling Postseason Qualifying Tournament staged in Selah, will compete at Sub-Regionals in Spokane on Feb. 4-5.
To advance past the JV Qualifier, the junior varsity grapplers had to claim a top three finish in their weight class.
Three of Sunnyside's JV wrestlers earned top honors Saturday-J.T. Gonzalez at 103 lbs., Jose Salinas at 125 lbs. and Tomas Pena at 130 lbs.
In the finals, Gonzalez bested Ryan Clark of Ellensburg by a 6-1 score. Salinas claimed a first round pin over Junior Chavez of Wapato in his championship match, and Pena was a 13-6 winner over Keane Simpson of Ellensburg in the 130-lb. finals.
Five other Sunnyside wrestlers advanced to the finals Saturday but settled for runner-up honors. The second place finishers included Eric Mejia, Victor Reyes, Jeff Van Wingerden, Ulysses Olivarez and Casey Smith.
Mejia, at 112 lbs., lost a 5-2 squeaker to Carlos Torrez of Selah in the finals. Reyes was decisioned 19-9 by John Weaver of Wapato in the 119-lb. championship match. Van Wingerden, wrestling at 135 lbs., was pinned by Tyler Haberman of Ellensburg in the finals. Olivarez, at 152 lbs., suffered a fall at the hands of Ellensburg's Chris Yarwood in the finals. Smith, at 215 lbs., also was pinned in the finals. His defeat came against Tyler Weyand of Ellensburg.
The lone third place finisher for Sunnyside at the JV Qualifier was Anthony Salazar. Wrestling at 275 lbs., Salazar pinned Richie Sutton of Wapato in the consolation finals.
Sunnyside's Sam Bardell lost his 140-lb. consolation finals match to Dillon Roache of Hanford, 11-10, taking fourth place honors in the process. Despite finishing fourth, Bardell will get to compete at Sub-Regionals because Wapato doesn't field a varsity wrestler at 140 lbs.
An 11th JV wrestler from Sunnyside may also get to take the trip to Spokane this coming Friday. The Grizzlies' James Van Wingerden placed fourth at 171 lbs. last Saturday, but is awaiting word on whether or not Wapato's 171-lb. varsity wrestler is academically eligible for the postseason.
Of the 14 JV wrestlers competing in Selah this past Saturday, only three of them did not place in the trophy round. Seeing their seasons come to an end were Jordan Bellamy (145 lbs.), Jerry Alvarez (160 lbs.) and Lance Warner (189 lbs.).
The only other school at Saturday's JV Qualifier to advance as many wrestlers to Sub-Regionals as Sunnyside was Ellensburg.
"Ellensburg and us each qualified 10 for Sub-Regionals, the other teams had far less," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus.
"By qualifying 10 of our JV wrestlers, it will not only give us more scoring opportunities at Sub-Regionals, it will also be invaluable in terms of giving our kids some experience in a postseason tournament. That experience will pay off later," Paulus added.