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Gutierrez claims Regional title for Lady Vikings

WAHLUKE - She went into the tourney with the number one seed and backed it up, as Mabton's Mary Ellen Gutierrez won the Regional title in the 112-lb. weight class.

Gutierrez dominated the field, pinning all three of her opponents in less than 90 seconds each.

She and three other Lady Vikes competed at 1A Regional girls wrestling this past Saturday at Wahluke High School.

The top three finishers in each weight class advanced to the girls 1A State tourney in the Tacoma Dome this coming Friday and Saturday.

After drawing a first-round bye, Gutierrez started her title run with a pin in just 1:25 over Quincy's Estefany Chavarin.

Gutierrez followed that up with another pin in the semifinals, dispatching Warden's Melissa Vasquez in 1:20.

That set the stage for the championship match. Like the two before, Gutierrez easily controlled her opponent, Othello's Julissa Valenciano, by posting a pin in just 36 seconds.

Mabton's other State qualifier at the girls Regional tourney was Jesenia Meza, who claimed third place honors in the 124-lb. weight class.

Meza, seeded third in her weight class, drew a bye in her first match and then was outpointed 6-3 by Royal's Breanne Diaz.

Advancing through the consolation round, Meza reeled off three victories in a row to take the third and final berth to State in her weight class.

Meza's surge to State started with a pin in just 25 seconds over Sunnyside's Dezma Hernandez.

Up next was Columbia-Burbank's Marriah Paxton, and Meza pinned her in the third round.

That advanced Meza to the third/fouth place match, where she faced a rematch against Diaz with a spot at State on the line.

Meza and Diaz were tied at 2-2 in the second round, when the Mabton wrestler scored a pin.

"The first match was very close and Jesenia missed some opportunities," Mabton girls Coach Dave Mendoza said. "Boy she came through in that last match."

Mendoza said the third/fourth place match turned on a move by Meza to "stack" Diaz. He explained the move required Mendoza to trap one of Diaz's legs and pull her head under her body. "It's a move that Jesenia is very good at and when she gets that move she's successful most of the time," Mendoza said.

Besides the two State qualifiers, Mabton's Marlen Chavez claimed fourth place honors to earn alternate status. Chavez will travel with the team to Tacoma, but will only compete if a wrestler in her weight class and Region is injured or misses weight.

Chavez, a senior, started on a positive note, claiming a 14-2 victory over Quincy's Cynthia Ramirez.

Chavez then fell to Othello's Elisa Garza by a score of 7-2 before rebounding for a 2-1 win over Alondra Quezadas of Sunnyside.

That advanced Chavez to the third/fourth place match, where she lost 4-2 in a rematch with Ramirez.

"Marlen wrestled well, the girl just learned a lot from their first match and kept her at bay."

Mabton's other wrestler at Regionals, Jazmin Mendoza (118 lbs.), was likely in the toughest weight class.

After drawing a first-round bye, Mendoza, an eighth place medalist at State last year, fell to East Valley's Rachel Coleck 4-1.

She then ended her tourney run by sustaining a second round pin to Royal's Mariana Alvarez.

"There were five returning State veterans in that weight class, so somebody was going to be the odd man out," Dave Mendoza said. "She gave herself a chance and it just didn't happen."

Looking ahead to the Mat Classic this Friday and Saturday, Mendoza has high hopes for the two Mabton qualifiers. That's especially true of Gutierrez, a junior, who is making her third trip to State.

Mendoza said Gutierrez has a good chance of getting her first State medal.

"She's 20-1 and by taking that Regional championship she's in a good position from a draw perspective," he said. "I look for some good things from her this weekend."

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