HOQUIAM - Edging out Black Hills High School by two points, the Sunnyside Grizzlies placed second at the 27th annual Hoquiam Alumni Invitational this past past weekend with 182.5 points. Elma High School placed first with 209.5 points.
Isaac Romero (112 lbs.) was the only champion for Sunnyside this weekend. He went 4-0 with a first round bye. In the second round Romero pinned Jason Sizemore of Aberdeen High School in 1:48. He was ahead 13-1 at the time.
Romero scored a technical fall in the semi-finals against Montesano High School's Dillion Ford, beating him 19-2. This set up the finals with Steilacoom High School's John Kushman. Romero was leading 9-2 in the third round when Kushman pulled up lame. He had injured his knee in the semi-finals and it became too much for him in his match against Romero, Paulus said.
Steven Romero (103 lbs.) placed second at the tournament for Sunnyside with a record of 3-1. He started his march to the finals by beating Eddie Protzeller of Vashion Island 17-1. He then pinned Trevor McCullough of Aberdeen High School in 1:57. Romero cruised through the semi-finals by scoring a technical fall against Neil Lane of Black Hills High School, 25-8.
This set up a final with Nick Burnham, also of Black Hills High School, who is ranked number two in the state.
"It was a heck of a match," Sunnyside Coach George Paulus said. "The lead changed hands about four times in the match."
Romero was on the bottom side when the lead changed for the last time, losing to Burnham 8-5.
The other second place finish for Sunnyside came courtesy of Ricardo Rivera (119 lbs.) He finished 3-1 on the day as well.
His first match was against Thomas Elliot of North Beach High School. Rivera wasted no time, pinning Elliot in 27 seconds. In his second round match Rivera scored a major decision against Brian Cummins of Aberdeen High School, 17-3. Rivera pinned Corey Mason of Klahowya High School in 2:22 in the semi-finals, setting up the final with Joel McGill of Black Hills High School.
The match was tied 2-2 when Mason tried an inside switch on Rivera. During the move Mason came down hard on Rivera's head, almost knocking him unconscious. Paulus stopped the match after that.
"I didn't want to take a chance," Paulus explained.
Finishing in third place, Sunnyside's J.T. Gonzalez went 4-1 with his only loss to Jim Belleville of Black Hills High School. Belleville is the defending State champion and it was Belleville who Gonzalez lost to last year at State.
"He (Gonzalez) was in a position to win it at the end but he just wasn't able to do it," Paulus said.
Gonzalez lost to Belleville 4-0.
In the consolation final Gonzalez was awarded a win by injury default against Brandon Truini of Elma High School.
Eric Mejia fought through a swollen eye to go 3-2 and take a fourth place finish for the Grizzlies. Mejia took an elbow to the eye in his second match but continued on. He ended up losing to Jacob Johanns of Ki-Be 12-0 in the consolation final.
"It's hard to wrestle with a face mask on if you're not used to it," Paulus said Mejia wearing a protective mask after his injury.
Jordan Gonzalez (112 lbs), Danny Alvarez (140 lbs.), Jesus Mendoza (160 lbs.), Jose Barajas (215 lbs.) and Angelo Salazar (285 lbs.) finished in fifth place for Sunnyside.
Zeke Galvan (152 lbs.) and Juan Galindo (171 lbs.) placed sixth for the Grizzlies.
"Going that far we performed really well," Paulus said. "It was a good team effort. Everyone contributed and that was the difference between second and third place."
Sunnyside will host the Kennewick Lions Thursday, Jan. 18, at 7 p.m.