YAKIMA - The Sunnyside Grizzly wrestling team continued to growl, tearing through the SunDome Mat Classic this past Saturday to earn first-place honors. It's the first time that Sunnyside has won the team title at the invite.
Sunnyside scored 208 team points, followed by Shadle Park with 170.5, Klahowya with 144 and Toppenish with 143.5 points.
The Grizzlies placed 12 wrestlers in 14 weight categories. "We scored points every way you can," said Sunnyside Coach George Paulus. "All the kids won at least a match or two. We had contributions from everyone on the team."
Three Grizzlies advanced to the championships in their respective weight classes, with two earning a title.
One was Nathan Gonzalez (119 lbs.), who outpointed Highland's Andres Tereza to claim the top prize. The other Sunnyside grappler to come home a champion was Josh Romero (152 lbs.), who won a 3-2 last second title victory over Davis' Austin Wagner.
Paulus said Romero lost a 2-0 lead and, with the match even at 2-2, earned an escape point near the end of regulation to claim the victory.
The third Grizzly in the championship round was Adam Peters (285 lbs.), who had to settle for second-place honors due to an injury default.
Peters suffered a shoulder injury and had to default the title match to Pete Almaguer of Granger. Paulus said that trainers on site deemed Peters okay to continue despite the shoulder injury, but "he's too valuable to risk so I called the match."
Claiming third place honors for the Grizzlies were Isidro Ramirez (135 lbs.) and Emmanuel Tejeda (140 lbs.).
Franki Ochoa also brought home a third-place medal for Sunnyside, wrestling unattached in the 285-lb. weight class. His only loss on the day was in the semifinals to teammate Peters.
Sunnyside's Santos Guerrero (112 lbs.) earned a fourth place finish, and the Grizzlies' other medalist was Lupe Mendoza (171 lbs.), who garnered sixth place honors.
The top six wrestlers in each weight class earned medals, while ribbons were given to wrestlers placing from seventh to tenth.
Sunnyside's Isaac Guerrero (130 lbs.) and David Vidales (145 lbs.) brought home ribbons for seventh place finishes in their respective weight classes.
Rounding out Sunnyside's placers were ribbon winners Jesse Barajas (103 lbs.) and Ramon Hernandez (160 lbs.), who finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in their weight classes.
The Grizzlies now have a break for Christmas and don't return to action until next Tuesday, Dec. 28, at the Hanford Winter Cup.
With more than a week between matches, Paulus says the Grizzlies will be at full strength for Hanford. And that means only more bad news for Big Nine league foes who have been pummeled by the Grizzlies this season.
"We had three guys out for the SunDome, so by then (at Hanford next Tuesday) we should have the full meal deal," the coach said. "We'll have a new, improved version of the Grizzlies coming out after Christmas."