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Grizzly grapplers eclipse Southridge Suns

KENNEWICK - The Sunnyside High School wrestling team cruised to a 45-18 win at Southridge yesterday, Thursday, in Columbia Basin League action.

Sunnyside won 10 of 14 matches on the night, starting with an 8-2 decision by Baltazar Avalos (145 lbs.) over Chase Ratchford.

Two matches after Danny Alvarez received a forfeit win for the Grizzlies at 152 lbs, teammate Jesus Mendoza won what Coach George Paulus called a "wild" match over Pablo Cesar at 171 lbs.

Mendoza prevailed 15-10 in a match that saw him put his opponent on his back four times, only to give up reversals.

"It was like a football score," Paulus said of the 171-lb. tilt. "Both were careless at times. We were yelling at him (Mendoza) as loud as we could. It (the match) was almost disastrous for him."

A welcome sight for the Grizzlies was Jose Barajas at 215 lbs. in a pin over the Suns' Shawn Benjamin. It was Barajas' first match back from a knee injury that had sidelined him since the beginning of the season.

In other Grizzly wins, Christian Reyes received a forfeit in the 103-lb. match, and Isaac Romero (119 lbs.) scored a 20-5 technical fall over Blaze Larson of Southridge to improve his record to 20-1 on the season.

Sunnyside's Josh Romero (125 lbs.) decisioned Southridge's Robbie Rodgers by a score of 15-5 to improve to 20-2 on the year

Shawn Olivarez scored for Sunnyside in the 130-lb. match by pinning Alex Goran.

Grizzly Leroy Rodello decisioned Clark Beaver 8-7 in the 135-lb. match, and Sunnyside's J.T. Gonzalez at 140 lbs. closed out the evening with an 8-2 decision over Patrick Russell to keep his season record perfect at 21-0.

Three of Sunnyside's four losses came at 160 lbs., where Drew Swinehart was pinned by Austin Diddier, when Danny Almeida at 189 lbs. was defeated by Ryan Downs 3-1 and at 285 lbs. when Adam Peters was pinned by Grant Robinson.

The fourth Grizzly loss was something of an upset, Paulus said of Steven Romero's 7-0 loss to Eli Garza at 112 lbs. The loss was just the second of the year for Romero, whose season record now stands at 20-2. "It was a good match. I think Steven learned some things," Paulus said.

Paulus said he saw overall improvement in Sunnyside's wrestlers last night. "We had some improvement in our basic techniques," the coach said. "We were less sloppy and the bottom line is that we were dominant."

An estimated 200 wrestlers will compete at Sunnyside High School this Saturday for a JV competition, while the varsity gets back in action with a home match next Tuesday, Jan. 8.

As with the progress last night, Paulus said he hopes to see continued improvement out of his squad. "The idea is to get better as you go through the year."

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