SPOKANE - The Sunnyside Grizzlies used a fourth-place finish at the sub-regional tournament in Spokane last weekend to advance six wrestlers to the Regional Tournament, which will be held in Sunnyside next Saturday.
"Six was a little less than I was hoping for," Sunnyside Coach George Paulus said.
East Valley of Spokane placed first in the tournament, Eastmont High School was second, followed by Southridge in third place.
Sunnyside had two wrestlers win championships. The first was Isaac Romero at 112 lbs.
Romero finished the day with a 4-0 record and kept his season stats unblemished at 34-0. After a first round bye, Romero beat Ben McClustry of East Valley in Spokane, pinning him in 2:28.
In the semi-finals Romero beat Tanner Robinson of North Central High School by scoring a technical fall, 15-0.
It was tougher for Romero in the finals. He worked hard to beat Kyle Van Horn of Eastmont 5-3.
"It was a good match," Paulus said. "Van Horn wrestled a real smart match."
Van Horn was ahead 3-2 before Romero was able to score some points for the win.
Ricardo Rivera (119-lbs.) also earned a number one seed to the regional tournament.
Rivera went 4-0 on the day and started out by beating Trevor Gaskin-Herrera of Sunnyside. Rivera easily dispatched of his teammate, beating him 10-1 to set up a second round match with Sean Billtoft of East Valley. Rivera beat him just as easily, 10-2.
The third round was a bit harder for Rivera. He wrestled Tyler Cowin of Southridge, beating him 12-10.
"It was just a see-saw battle," Paulus said.
Rivera was awarded a victory in the finals by injury default. Devon Moormen-Stelter of West Valley in Yakima, was too sick to wrestle.
Advancing to the regional tournament as number two seeds were Sunnyside's Steven Romero and J.T. Gonzales.
Steven Romero (103-lbs.) finished 3-1 on the day and after a first round bye beat Mt. Spokane's Jake Wilkes, pinning him in 4:34.
In the third round Romero scored a technical fall over East Valley's Keith Babington 22-5. He lost in the finals to Eli Garza of Southridge, 5-3.
At 125 lbs., J.T. Gonzalez went 3-1 for Sunnyside. He beat John Deffenbaugh of Kamiakin by pinning him in 1:47 in the first round.
He used another pin over Beunx Dodd of East Valley to advance to the third round. Gonzalez pinned Dodd in 1:15.
In the third round he pinned Jason Wold of Eastmont in 1:30.
Southridge's Phillip Cowin ended Gonzalez's march to the championship when he beat the Grizzly 10-5 in the finals.
"J.T. got taken down three times and put on his back," Paulus explained. "That was the difference in the match."
Heavyweight Angelo Salazar (285-lbs.) earned a third seed spot at regionals for the Grizzlies. He beat Joel Lindsey of Mt. Spokane 4-2 in overtime.
Sunnyside's Danny Alvarez placed fourth for the Grizzlies by going 3-3 on the day. He lost in the consolation final to Corbin Richardson of Mt. Spokane, getting pinned in 4:28. Alvarez was up 5-3 at the time of the pin.
Paulus said he was hoping to get nine of his wrestler to regionals, but was happy with six.
"We'll hammer the conditioning real hard this week," he said.
He added all six wrestlers have excellent opportunities to make it to state.
They will know next Saturday, Feb. 10, when Sunnyside hosts 20 schools from the Columbia Basin League, the Greater Spokane League and the King County Metro League at the regional tournament.