CONNELL - Five of Mabton's grapplers will be going to State competition this coming Friday, Feb. 20, as a result of their performances at this past Saturday's Regional competition in Connell.
"We finished Regionals in sixth place, which is good," said Mabton Coach John Kilian, explaining there were a total of 14 teams competing this past Saturday.
He was a little disappointed, though, the team won't be sending more of its members to State. "A few of the guys just didn't materialize," said Kilian, saying he felt the team could have done better.
One Viking, Angelo Salinas (171 lbs.), made it to the finals this past Saturday and garnered runner-up honors. Salinas began his day by pinning Salvador Acosta of Kiona-Benton in 1:40. He grappled with Garrett Whitney of Connell in the second round of competition and earned an 11-6 decision. That win put Salinas in the finals round, where he was entangled in a close match with Warden's Dakota Scott. Scott defeated Salinas 6-5.
"Angelo just couldn't get away from him (Scott) at times...they battled back and forth," Kilian commented.
Enroute to earning third place honors, Mabton's Eric Meza (125 lbs.) lost his first match to Andy Campbell of Kiona-Benton by an 8-6 decision. Meza dropped into the consolation rounds and rebounded with a pin over Zach Moser of Naches in 1:38 before facing off with his own teammate, Luis Aviles. Meza and Aviles agreed to give Meza the win by default, moving Meza into another round against Campbell. Campbell couldn't duplicate his earlier success against Meza, as he was handed a 12-0 defeat in the 3rd/4th place match. Aviles earned fifth place honors.
"The top five finishers go to State and the default decision keeps Luis fresh," said Kilian.
Andy Rivera (140 lbs.) also garnered third place honors at Regionals. He opened up with a 12-6 win over Kam Tamayo of Warden and then competed against Warden's Lupe Landeros and lost by pin in 3:15.
"Andy was ahead 5-4, looking good, got caught and got pinned," Kilian said of the match against Landeros.
Rivera dropped into the consolation bracket of competition as a result of that loss. In the next round, he handed Royal's Omar Gomez a 9-4 defeat, moving into the 3rd/4th place bout against Jaime Martinez of Granger. Rivera won an 8-7 decision over Martinez.
"Andy was ahead and gave up a couple of points for stalling, but he had a good day and could have possibly gone into the finals...he fought hard and did well," Kilian stated.
Mabton didn't have any grapplers with fourth place honors, but Aviles and Damien Marquez (215 lbs.) both earned fifth place honors, qualifying for State.
Daniel Magallon (119 lbs.), Fabian Ruiz (135 lbs.) and Sal Lopez (189 lbs.) all will travel to Tacoma as alternates.