WAPATO - When freshman Baltazar Avalos took the mat last night for his 137-lb. bout against Wapato junior Jaymar Imperial, the Grizzlies already had the Mid-Valley League wrestling match well in hand, leading 30-15.
Avalos, though, put an exclamation point on the night for Sunnyside, decisioning the stronger, more physically defined Imperial by an 11-6 score.
"It was probably the match of the night," confirmed Sunnyside Coach George Paulus.
The 19-year Grizzly wrestling coach didn't really figure Imperial would have much of a problem with the freshman Avalos. But when all was said and done, the Sunnyside freshman pulled off the upset of the night.
"It was one to be proud of," Paulus said of Avalos's 11-6 victory.
The key to the unlikely win may have come in the first period. Imperial forged a quick 3-1 lead on Avalos, but the freshman popped a reversal and in the same motion flopped the Wolfpack wrestler to his back for a 3-point near fall. All of a sudden Avalos was up 6-3. From there, he nursed the bout out to the 11-6 victory.
Avalos's win increased Sunnyside's lead on the scoreboard to 33-15. Sunnyside won three of the four remaining bouts to post a 51-21 win over Wapato. The victory elevates the Grizzlies above the .500 mark in league play, to 3-2. Sunnyside has one conference match remaining, that scheduled for next Thursday, Jan. 26, at home against West Valley.
One of the other special matches last night came in the 127-lb. bout, pitting Sunnyside's Steve Sanchez against Kenny Garza. What made it special wasn't Sanchez's easy 19-2 technical fall victory. Rather, it was that Sanchez recorded five near falls in the match. That gives him 47 near falls in his prep career, just four of the school record set by John Kilian, who is now coach of the Mabton High School wrestling team.
Last night's action began with Sunnyside picking up six team points when Wapato failed to field a wrestler for the 173-lb. bout. A pin by 191-pounder Aaron Blanco over Wapato's Hector Garza upped Sunnyside's lead to 12-0.
The Wolfpack fought back with two consecutive wins to close within 12-9. Edwin Acosta claimed the first of the two wins by pinning Sunnyside's Kyle Tyler (217 lbs.). Wapato's Jordan Littlebull then blanked Sunnyside heavyweight Angelo Salazar, 7-0.
Unfortunately for Wapato, the Wolfpack had no answers for Sunnyside's next four wrestlers, each of whom came away victorious to give the Grizzlies a 30-9 lead. Those Sunnyside winners included Isaac Romero at 105 lbs., a 7-1 decision over highly regarded Luis Gomez; Ricardo Rivera at 114 lbs., an 18-10 victor over Gustavo Lopez; J.T. Gonzalez at 121 lbs., who pinned John Weaver in 1:43; and Sanchez at 127 lbs., who made short work of Garza enroute to the 19-2 technical fall.
In the last six matches of the night, Wapato got wins from Robert Espinoza at 132 lbs., by pin over Tomas Pena; and by Alfredo Andrade at 142 lbs., who pinned last minute Sunnyside fill-in Sebastian Capetillo.
The Grizzly winners in the last three matches of the night included Adolfo Blanco at 147 lbs., who pinned Junior Ortega; and Michael Graham (154 lbs.) and Joey Tristan (162 lbs.), both of whom won by forfeit.