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Grizzlies place second at invite

HOQUIAM - The Sunnyside High School wrestling team was a close second at the Hoquiam Tournament held this past Saturday.

The Grizzlies scored 175.5 team points, second only to a national team of seniors from Japan that tallied 190 team points.

Sunnyside freshman Josh Romero (125 lbs.) was one of three individual champions for the Grizzlies, taking home "outstanding wrestler" honors by decisioning Japanese Olympian-in-training Naoto Takaysu 5-3 in the finals.

"Everybody was talking about this kid from Japan at 125 lbs.," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus. "But Josh raised a couple of eyebrows. That was a pretty big win."

Sunnyside's other champions were the other two Romero brothers. Steven (112 lbs.) pinned Mark Bellew from Elma in the finals to win that weight class. Isaac (119 lbs.) captured first-place honors with a 7-1 decision over Steilacoom's Josh Cushman.

The Grizzlies also grabbed three second-place finishes.

Sunnyside's Christian Reyes (103 lbs.) lost to Brad Watson of Elma 13-9 in the finals.

The Grizzlies' lone undefeated wrestler, J.T. Gonzalez, lost his first match of the season in the finals of the 135-lb. division with a 2-1 loss to Masato Suzuki of the national squad.

"If that match lasts another five seconds J.T. would have beat him. The kid was going over on to his back."

The loss dropped Gonzalez's record to 25-1 on the season.

Sunnyside's Jose Barajas (215 lbs.) lost the finals in his weight class by an injury default to Justin Whitney of Elma.

Danny Alvarez (152 lbs.) was third for Sunnyside, winning 3-1 in the consolation finals over Brett Johnson of Port Townsend.

Sunnyside's Nick Martinez (130 lbs.) and Danny Almeida (189 lbs.) earned fourth-place honors in their respective weight classes.

Also placing for Sunnyside were Andrew Swinehart (160 lbs.), Jesus Mendoza (171 lbs.) and Caleb Gomez (145 lbs.), who each finished in sixth place.

Sunnyside also had three JV wrestlers who placed, but whose scoring did not count on the Grizzlies' team tally. Guillermo Correa was fourth in the 103-lb. weight category, Rigo Valdez (119 lbs.) was third and Emmanuel Tejeda (125 lbs.) took home third-place honors, as well.

The Grizzlies return to league competition this Thursday at Kennewick.

Paulus said last Saturday's tourney was a chance for his squad to get in some practice, especially against the Japanese national team.

"It was real tough competition," Paulus noted. "But we beat them (the Japanese team) in a couple of matches, and not too many other schools could say that."

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