Winners of eight of the 14 bouts last night, six by pin, Sunnyside knocked the Prosser Mustangs wrestling team off the top perch of the Mid-Valley League standings.
The Grizzlies' 45-27 victory came with a price, though, as two of Sunnyside's wrestlers were injured Thursday evening. Neither athlete-Tony Garcia and Kyle Tyler-were able to make the trip this morning with the team to the Hoquiam Invitational.
The freshman Garcia's injury occurred in the very first match of the night. Wrestling at 135 lbs., he sustained an elbow injury on an illegal move called against Prosser freshman Derrick Smalls. The Mustang was docked a penalty point, but then repeated the move. At that point it was determined Garcia was unable to continue, and he was awarded an injury disqualification, good for six team points for Sunnyside.
Prosser rebounded with a pair of victories at 140 and 145 lbs. to forge a 9-6 lead.
Alex Zepeda's 4-1 win over Sunnyside's Zeke Galvan in the 140-lb. bout was basically decided when Zepeda extended his one-point lead with a two-point reversal in the third period. To Galvan's credit, he had been sick for most of this week but gutted out the match against Zepeda.
"Zeke didn't look as healthy as he should have," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus.
The Prosser win at 145 lbs. came when Nathan Bauer pinned Adolfo Blanco two-thirds of the way through the second round. Bauer was leading 4-2 at the time.
Sunnyside countered with two consecutive pins, in the 152 and 160-lb. divisions, to retake the lead at 18-9. It turned out to be the last lead change of the night.
The first of those two pins was recorded by Michael Graham. Leading 4-0 at the time in the 152-lb. bout, Graham claimed a fall over Prosser's Ricardo Sanchez just over a minute into the opening period. Joey Tristan then made short work of Prosser's David Starkey, scoring a pin in the 160-lb. match in just 28 seconds. Starkey actually took Tristan down at the outset of the match, but the Grizzly grappler quickly reversed him and flopped the Mustang onto his back.
Prosser closed to 18-15 in the team scoring race when 171-pounder Ivan Merino pinned James Van Wingerden, but the Grizzlies pushed their lead back out to 24-15 on Aaron Blanco's pin of Prosser 189-pounder Matt Garcia.
"The 189-lb. match was a good one," said Paulus. "The lead must have changed hands at least four times. Aaron (Blanco) was up 11-10 when he got the pin late there in the third period."
The Mustangs refused to quit, however. Prosser fired back with a pin of its own, in the 215-lb. match. Chris Shepard, ahead by four points at the time, scored the fall over Tyler just before the buzzer sounded the end of the second round. During the match Tyler sustained an injury to his jaw, and was forced to miss this morning's trip to Hoquiam. Paulus said there were no other wrestlers available to fill in at 215 lbs. at this weekend's invite.
Shepard's pin cut Sunnyside's lead to 24-21, but the Grizzlies again got some breathing room when Grizzly 275-pounder Angelo Salazar pinned Josh Castilleja at the 3:49 mark. Salazar was trailing the Mustang heavyweight by two points at the time of the fall. The pin increased the Grizzlies' lead to 30-21.
In what might have been the match of the night, the 103-lb. bout, Prosser ended up scoring a narrow 5-3 decision to scrape to within 30-24 of Sunnyside. The match pitted two of the state's finest mighty-mites against one another-Sunnyside's Isaac Romero and Prosser's Eddie Pedroza.
Pedroza pulled off a takedown move with about 20 seconds remaining in the match to eke out the narrow 5-3 victory.
Both Pedroza and Romero are State tournament-caliber wrestlers, "...and both will definitely be seeing each other again this season," said Paulus.
Any suspense as to the outcome of last night's match went by the wayside when Sunnyside posted wins in the next three bouts. The three consecutive victories were recorded by Ricardo Rivera at 112 lbs., who pinned Elias Sanchez in the opening period; J.T. Gonzalez at 119 lbs., a 7-0 winner over Joseph Huizar; and Steve Sanchez at 125 lbs., who pinned Luis Mendoza.
The three wins upped Sunnyside's lead on the scoreboard to 45-24.
Prosser accounted for the final 45-27 team score by winning the final match of the night-Rene Moreno's 7-0 shutout of Baltazar Avalos at 130 lbs.
For Sunnyside, the victory over the Mustangs upped its Mid-Valley League record to 2-2. The Grizzlies' two league losses were to Ellensburg and Hanford, both of which are currently atop the conference standings with 3-0 marks. Prosser's first loss in league play leaves the Mustangs with a 2-1 conference record.