BUCKLEY - The Sunnyside Grizzly wrestling team placed sixth out of 16 teams at the White River Classic held this past Saturday in Buckley.
Leading the Grizzlies in claiming 113.5 points for sixth place was Nathan Gonzalez, who captured first place honors at 112 lbs. with a 4-0 record. Gonzalez claimed the top prize with a 9-0 victory in the finals over Joah Fennel of Woodinville.
"Nathan wasn't tested," said Coach George Paulus. "He started out on a real high note," he said of Sunnyside's first wrestling competition of the season.
Gonzalez was the only individual champion for Sunnyside. The Grizzlies did have three wrestlers claim third place honors in their individual weight classes, though.
Isidro Ramirez (113 lbs.) earned third place honors for the Grizzlies with a 3-1 record, including a pin of Woodinville's Matt Rieke in 1:48.
Also taking home a third place prize for Sunnyside was Danny Almeida (215 lbs.), who edged Grandview's Adam Morales to finish the day at 3-1.
Sunnyside's other third place recipient was Adam Peters (285 lbs.), who shut down Cedar Crest's Robby McNair in the consolation finals to bring home a 3-1 record.
The Grizzlies wrapped up their day with a pair of fifth place honors by Jaime Gonzalez (103 lbs., 2-2 record) and Andy Cantu (152 lbs., 2-2).
"Six guys in the medals is pretty common for us at this point of the season," Paulus said. "It was our first competition and we had a few cobwebs."
Enumclaw earned first place team honors with 216.5 points, followed by Yelm (203), Orting (188.5), Bonney Lake (132), Everett (124) and Sunnyside.
Overall, Paulus said he wasn't all that pleased with his athletes' performance, even if it was their season opener.
"I didn't think some of them prepared mentally enough for the matches," he said. "Some of them didn't react very well and had to try to fight after the fact. You have to play your game, not theirs."
Paulus said some of his wrestlers also need to learn to follow instructions from coaches when a match is underway. "Some of the kids wanted to do it their way and usually with a negative result."
In general, Paulus said his team did well with takedowns. "We wrestled pretty well on our feet, but our mat wrestling was suspect."
The coach added, "White River is a real intense tourney. We did okay, but we can be much better."
Sunnyside is gearing up for head-to-head action tomorrow, Tuesday, when it hosts league foe Wenatchee in the Grizzly home opener.