YAKIMA - For half the match it looked like the 4A Davis Pirates might be too much for the 3A Sunnyside Grizzly wrestling team last night.
Davis jumped out of the gate in Tuesday's match with an 18-9 lead after the first seven matches, before Sunnyside roared back to win the final seven contests on the way to a 43-18 victory.
"Any time you're behind you're concerned," said Grizzly Coach George Paulus. "But we knew we had a forfeit at 130 (the last match of the evening)."
Isidro Ramirez (135 lbs.) started things off for Sunnyside by outpointing Roy Cardenas, 12-11 in a see-saw battle.
Next up was Davis' Nick Sauceda (140 lbs.) who answered with a pin over Sunnyside's Miguel Madrigal in 2:36.
The Grizzlies' Andy Cantu (145 lbs.) prevailed 9-8 over Israel Fernandez in what Paulus called a "surprisingly tough match."
Davis followed by winning the next two matches, as Austin Wagner (152 lbs.) scored a technical fall over Sunnyside's Caleb Gomez, 21-5, and Jorge Alcala (160 lbs.) handily defeated Sunnyside's Ryan Hernandez 10-1.
The Grizzlies answered in the 171-lb. match, as Lupe Mendoza outpointed the Pirates' Gabe Ramirez by a score of 8-6.
Davis came back in the next match, though, as Damon Lybeck (189 lbs.) decisioned Sunnyside's Alex Isiordia 11-10 in two overtimes.
The victory gave Davis its 18-9 lead. As it turned out, that would be the last match Davis would win on the night, as Sunnyside reeled off 34 unanswered points over the final seven bouts.
The Grizzly rally started with a JV wrestler.
Frankie Ochoa filled in at 215 lbs. for Sunnyside because the usual athlete at that weight, Danny Almeida, had to move up to 285 lbs. to replace Jose Barajas out with an ear infection.
Ochoa did the Grizzlies proud, getting the best of Davis' Luis Febela in a 12-5 victory.
Almeida followed at 285 lbs. and pinned Alexis Garcia in 3:49. The win was sweet revenge for Almeida, who lost to Garcia earlier this season in the Sun Dome.
With the match tied at 18-18, Sunnyside took the lead for good in a battle between two State placers in the 103-lb. match.
Sunnyside's Nathan Gonzalez, second at the 3A State tourney last year, prevailed 4-0 over Davis' Alexio Garcia, a runner-up at last year's 4A State tourney. It was the second time the two wrestlers had met this season, with Gonzalez previously scoring a 9-0 victory over Garcia in the Sun Dome.
Gerardo Villalobos (112 lbs.) followed for the Grizzlies with a pin over Addison Mercer.
Sunnyside's Daniel Guillen was next at 119 lbs., earning an 11-0 major decision over Anthony Sanchez. Called up from the JV squad earlier this season, Guillen improved to 6-0 with the victory.
In the last head-to-head match of the night, David Vidales of Sunnyside pinned Jose Bellman at the 3:59 mark.
Emmanuel Tejeda claimed a forfeit win at 130 lbs. for the Grizzlies.
Though escaping with a win thanks to seven consecutive wins, Paulus wasn't entirely pleased with the outcome.
"I wasn't happy with some of the matches we thought were going to be close and we were actually blown away," Paulus said. "I didn't expect us to get beat the way we did in those matches."
The key, says Paulus, is getting his wrestlers to be consistent, both in their performance and in their nutritional habits.
"One day we're up, one day we're down," he says.
The issue, Paulus notes, is not what his athletes are eating, but how they are eating in preparation for competition.
Sunnyside travels to Southridge tomorrow, Thursday.