YAKIMA - Shorthanded due to injuries and other issues, the Sunnyside High School wrestling team last night still put up a battle in 48-20 and 34-31 losses to 4A schools Moses Lake and Pasco, respectively.
The double dual meets were held last night at West Valley High School.
Grizzly Coach George Paulus said, besides an injury, he was also missing players due to ineligibility issues and another who is a Running Start student and had finals at YVCC.
That meant having to throw some freshmen into the mix against juniors and seniors.
"We had to shuffle around some of our players," Paulus said. "It doesn't go well when you have to put freshmen in against tough 4A teams."
Even so, the Grizzlies more than held their own.
Against Moses Lake, Sunnyside trailed 21-0 after Jesus Mendoza (171), Danny Almeida (189), Jose Barajas (215) and Adam Peters (285) were defeated by their opponents.
Sunnyside rallied to take four of the next five matches to pull within 24-20.
The charge began when the Grizzlies' Christian Reyes pinned Jacob Courtright in the 103-lb. match and Sunnyside's Stephen Romero held on for a 14-10 win over Andrew Valdez in the 112-lb. match.
That made it a 21-10 contest and after Isaac Romero (119) and Josh Romero (125) recorded victories for the Grizzlies, Sunnyside narrowed the gap to 21-17.
Shawn Olivarez of Sunnyside lost a tough 8-4 match at 130 lbs., but teammate J.T. Gonzalez prevailed for a 2-0 win at 135 lbs. to make it a 24-20 score.
Sunnyside then lost the final four matches of the night.
Baltazar Avalos of Sunnyside was pinned in the 140-lb. match, and the Grizzlies followed that with substitute wrestlers in the next two weights as sophomore Caleb Gomez (145) and freshman Lupe Mendoza (152) battled before being pinned.
In the finale at 160 lbs., Sunnyside's Andrew Swinehart led, but had to default because a wound over his eye was re-opened.
In Sunnyside's second match, the Grizzlies again started slow but made it a contest the rest of the way in the loss to Pasco.
Almeida lost an overtime heartbreaker for Sunnyside at 189 lbs., and Barajas lost 9-0 at 215 lbs. After Peters was defeated in the 289-lb. contest, Pasco had built a 13-0 lead.
Sunnyside grappled the next four matches, minus a point deduction for lack of headgear, to take a 23-13 lead.
Romero at 112 lbs. got things started for the Grizzlies with a forfeit win, and teammates Isaac Romero (119) and Josh Romero (125) earned pins in their respective matches to vault Sunnyside into the 10-point lead.
After Olivarez at 130 lbs. lost a close 5-3 match, despite initially leading 3-0, Gonzalez rebounded with a 20-4 win over Pasco's Cody Rush to put the Grizzlies up 28-16.
Pasco then won four of the last five matches to rally for the win.
Avalos lost 7-2 in the 140-lb. tilt, and Gomez lost by a fall in the 145-lb. match.
Lupe Mendoza easily won his 152-lb. match against Pasco's Raul Sital to stem the tide, but Swinehart's eye injury kept him out of the 160-lb. tilt. He was replaced by freshman Ryan Hernandez who was pinned, but not until the third and final round. "He gave it a game effort," Paulus said of Hernandez.
With the score now knotted at 31-31, it all came down to the 171-lb. match.
Sunnyside's Jesus Mendoza had the upper hand, before losing 16-11. "The bottom line is that Jesus was ahead and had the other kid on his back," Paulus said of the finale. "The kid (Pasco's Mario Corrales) reached up and rolled him over. It was a five-point turnaround (in favor of Pasco)."
Though his squad battled and stayed competitive despite being shorthanded, Paulus feels his team still needs to improve at finishing off matches.
"One of our problems with the younger guys is that they're in a one point match, then all of a sudden they're pinned," Paulus observed. "We've got to get a little more fight in us."
Sunnyside will have a chance to get back some of that fight at the Fife Tournament this Saturday.