CONNELL - Behind individual titlists Abigail Elizondo and Sonia Romero, the Sunnyside High School girls wrestling team won the Sub-regional championship last Saturday.
A total of 20 schools were represented at the Sub-regional meet in Connell. Sunnyside finished first with 153 points, followed by Mabton in second place with a team score of 93. The third through fifth place finishing teams were Connell (70), Pasco (63) and Kiona-Benton (48).
The Lady Grizzlies had 13 grapplers competing at Sub-regionals. Nine of them finished fourth or better in their respective weight classes, which moves all nine on to the Regional meet slated to be held this Saturday, Feb. 11, at Wahluke High School. Sunnyside will also be sending three alternates to Regionals, based on their fifth-place performances at Sub-regionals.
At Regionals this coming Saturday, the top three finishers in each weight bracket qualify to compete at the 3A State tournament in Tacoma on Feb. 17-18.
In winning the 130-lb. Sub-regional title, the junior Elizondo posted a perfect 3-0 record on the day. In the championship bout, Elizondo pinned Kay Browning of Naches midway through the first round.
A State tourney qualifier last season, Elizondo is now 9-0 on the year.
Sunnyside Coach George Paulus said the junior "...is strong and scrappy. She's very competitive."
Romero, in winning the 195-lb. Sub-regional championship, also cruised through last Saturday's matches unbeaten. Also a junior, Romero brings what Paulus describes as a lot of experience to the mat when she wrestles.
Sunnyside, too, had two other wrestlers advance to the championship round at Sub-regionals, although both had to settle for runner-up honors.
The first of the two second-place finishers was senior Yunuenn Garcia. A four-year letterman for the SHS girls wrestling team who advanced to State last season, Garcia got clipped 7-4 by Mabton's Jazmin Mendoza in the 118-lb. title bout.
Also finishing second for Sunnyside last Saturday was freshman Jessica Cardenas. She went up against Frances Orozco of Connell in the 170-lb. championship match, but got turned midway through the second period and was pinned. For Cardenas, it was her first loss of the season after running off 11 consecutive victories.
Paulus said Cardenas had been wrestling at 155 lbs. for the majority of the season, but the SHS coaching staff elected to move Cardenas up to 170 lbs. at Sub-regionals, based on the large number of girls who competed at State last season at 155 lbs. who are back again this year. Paulus said this year's field of 170-pounders is light on experienced veterans.
"We figured Jessica's best chances of moving on to State would be at 170 lbs.," he explained. "One thing about her, she's a gamer, and she's very aggressive."
Sunnyside had a pair of third-place finishers at Sub-regionals, as well. They were seniors Lydia Gonzales (112 lbs.) and Dezma Hernandez (124 lbs.).
Gonzales, in the consolation finals, pinned Kamiakin's Megan Tinsley at the 4:53 mark.
Hernandez squeaked by Highland's Victoria Garcia by a 1-0 score in the consolation finals.
Sunnyside's three other Regional meet qualifiers, each of whom placed fourth at Sub-regionals, were Alondra Quezadas at 106 lbs., Marissa Ornellas at 137 lbs. and Jennifer Garcia at 145 lbs.
The Lady Grizzlies' three alternates to Regionals, via their fifth-place performances last Saturday, include Lupe Rodriguez (106 lbs.), Claudia Rivera (118 lbs.) and Megan Casseday (130 lbs.).