FIFE - It's getting to be old hat for the Sunnyside High School wrestling team. The Grizzlies, this past Saturday, captured their third consecutive team title at the Fife Invitational.
In amassing a tourney-best 247 team points at the 16-school invite, 54 more than the runner-up host Fife Trojans, Sunnyside advanced half its 14-man team into the championship finals. Of the seven Grizzly grapplers wrestling for individual titles, three returned home with top bragging rights.
Those Sunnyside champions included senior Nathan Gonzalez at 132 lbs., senior David Vidales at 160 lbs. and sophomore Austin Carman at 220 lbs.
The four other Sunnyside wrestlers advancing into the championship finals, but who had to settle for second-place honors in their respective weight classes, were sophomore Jesse Barajas at 106 lbs., sophomore Homer Romero at 113 lbs., junior Santos Guerrero at 120 lbs. and senior Isaac Guerrero at 145 lbs.
Of the three individual Sunnyside champions it was the sophomore Carman at 220 lbs. who, perhaps, put on the splashiest performance of the day. He opened the tourney by pinning his first three opponents. That set Carman up for a showdown in the finals against Newport's Chad Peterson. The Grizzly big man wasn't able to make it four straight pins, but tallying a second period near fall against Peterson propelled Carman onto a convincing 10-5 victory over the Newport grappler.
Vidales, at 160 lbs., was making his season debut for Sunnyside last Saturday. Missing the Grizzlies' first three competitions of the year apparently did him no harm, as he scored falls in two of his first three matches. In the finals, Vidales handily disposed of Kacee Garner of Port Angeles, 7-1.
"He had a real good day for his first outing of the year," SHS Coach George Paulus said of Vidales' 4-0 record at the tourney.
The last of the three individual titlists for Sunnyside, Gonzalez at 132 lbs., posted a 3-0 record to make it into the finals. There, he faced Fife's Zenkner Rhyse. Neither grappler was willing to back off in the nip-and-tuck affair, and appropriately the match went into overtime. Gonzalez shot at Rhyse four or five times before he finally dropped the Fife wrestler to the mat. The two-point takedown gave the gritty Grizzly a hard fought 7-5 victory.
Barajas, the 106-lb. runner-up, claimed a pin and a major decision in two of his three opening matches. In the finals, though, he wasn't able to gain the upper hand on Fife's Glen Robertson, who went on to score a 7-4 decision against Barajas.
Romero, the 113-pounder for Sunnyside, advanced to the finals by winning his three opening bouts. His day came crashing down, however, and rather quickly, when Noah Cuzzutto of Edmunds/Woodway rapidly took him off his feet and turned Romero directly onto his back. Fifteen seconds into the championship match the referee slammed the mat, awarding the pin to Cuzzutto.
The junior Santos Guerrero, at 120 lbs., took care of business in his three opening matches, but ran into a buzz saw in the finals. Facing defending 4A State champion Zach Joaquin of North Mason, Guerrero fell by a 12-5 score. Guerrero got turned onto his back three times in the match, but to his credit he did notch a near fall of his own against Joaquin.
"The good thing about Santos is that it seemed he got stronger as the match progressed," said Paulus.
The older Guerrero, the senior Isaac who wrestled at 145 lbs., chalked up one pin in his first three victories of the day. In the finals, Guerrero gave North Mason's Brian McCarty all he could handle, but in the end McCarty registered four points in the final period to eke out an 11-8 win over the Grizzly.
Besides the seven Sunnyside wrestlers who made it into the championship finals, the Grizzlies received four third-place efforts from Christian Ruiz (126 lbs.), Sedro Ramirez (138 lbs.), Daniel Avalos (182 lbs.) and Miguel Guzman (195 lbs.).
Ruiz pinned Sebastian Barragan of Forks in the consolation finals.
Ramirez was a 21-6 technical fall winner in the consolation finals, that coming against Prairie's Mario Gonzalez.
Avalos' victory in the consolation finals, via a second round pin, was against a grappler from Washington High School.
Guzman scored a second period fall in his consolation finals match against Prairie's Tyler Duncan.
The one other Grizzly to medal at the Fife invite was Alex Nunez at 152 lbs. He posted a 3-2 record on the day.
The Sunnyside varsity is scheduled to travel to Southridge this coming Thursday, in search of its third consecutive CBBN league victory of the season.