HOQUIAM - Like the air rushing from a deflated balloon, the Sunnyside High School wrestling team sagged miserably this past weekend at the Hoquiam Invitational.
"It wasn't one of our stellar performances," said 19-year Sunnyside Coach George Paulus.
The Grizzlies managed just a ninth place finish from the 17-team field, tallying only 106 points. That was a full 100 points behind tournament champion W.F. West High School of Chehalis.
Of the four invites Sunnyside has competed in this season, this was the first in which the Grizzlies didn't return home with an individual titlist. The best Sunnyside could manage was a pair of runner-up performances.
The first of the second place finishes came from 103-pounder Isaac Romero. The sophomore won his three opening bouts to advance to the finals, but couldn't rally down the stretch in the championship match and ended up succumbing in overtime, 5-3.
Romero's loss came against the state's top ranked Class 3A 103-pounder-Jimmy Bellville of Black Hills. Paulus said Romero had an opportunity to come away as the winner, but failed to escape Bellville's grasp in the last period of the bout.
"Isaac couldn't get off the bottom in the last period. The Bellville kid rode him out," said Paulus.
Sunnyside's other second place finish was nabbed by senior Steve Sanchez, wrestling at 125 lbs. Sanchez, who won the State 3A 119-lb. championship last season, was defeated by Kellen Hopkins of East Valley in the title match.
"Steve didn't have one of his better matches," said Paulus, explaining that Sanchez uncharacteristically gave up three takedowns to Hopkins, who placed third at State last season as a 119-pounder.
Two of the Grizzly grapplers returned home with fifth place finishes from Hoquiam-J.T. Gonzalez and Michael Graham.
Gonzales, wrestling at 119 lbs., posted a 2-2 record to advance to the trophy round, where he defeated Ki-Be's Jacob Johanns by an 8-4 score. Graham, at 152 lbs., pinned Nate West of Montesano in the trophy round match for fifth and sixth place honors.
The only other members of the Sunnyside varsity to trophy at the tourney were Baltazar Avalos at 130 lbs. and Adolfo Blanco at 145 lbs. Both wrestlers compiled 3-3 records and settled for eighth place honors.
Sunnyside's four upper weight competitors, from 160 lbs. to 275 lbs., won only one match apiece in what Paulus could only describe as disappointing efforts.
On a bright note, said Paulus, Sunnyside was allowed to enter two of their JV wrestlers into the tourney, and both came away with eighth place performances. The two grapplers, both of whom went 3-3 on the weekend, were Eric Mejia at 125 lbs. and Trevor Gaskin-Herrera at 112 lbs.