RICHLAND – With 10 Sunnyside Grizzly grapplers punching their tickets to Regionals, the Sunnyside wrestling team earned third-place team honors last Saturday at Sub-Regionals.
“It was a tough tourney,” said Coach George Paulus. “We’re taking 10, which is a little lower than I was hoping for, but we’ll take what we can get and see what we can do with it.”
University claimed top team honors in the 3A Sub-Regional competition with 346 points, followed by Mt. Spokane at 271.5 points. Sunnyside tallied 226 team points.
The Grizzlies had three individual titlists. Jesse Barajas (120 lbs.) earned top honors with a 6-0 championship match win over Mt. Spokane’s Alec Hoover.
In the 132-lb. weight class, Sunnyside’s Anthony Chavez prevailed in his title bout when opponent Jason Beck of Mt. Spokane was disqualified.
The third Sunnyside champ was Daniel Avalos (182 lbs.), with an 8-5 victory in his title tilt over Shadle Park’s Kyle Vinson.
Homer Romero was one of two Sunnyside wrestlers to advance in the 113-lb. weight class. Romero settled for runner-up honors when he was pinned in the title match by Kamiakin’s Tyler Almaguer. The other Grizzly to advance at 113 was Jesse Torres, who finished in fourth place.
Sunnyside’s Andy Gomez (152 lbs.) grabbed third-place honors and a spot at Regionals – the top six finishers in each weight class advanced – when he won the third/fourth place bout by a 1-0 score over Mt. Spokane’s Hayden Hohman.
At 106 lbs., Sunnyside had two Regional qualifiers, as Jacob Mendoza and Elias Romero earned fourth and fifth-place honors, respectively. Paulus noted that Mendoza almost didn’t make the tourney due to illness, but fought through.
Sunnyside’s final two Regional qualifiers from Sub-Regionals were Noe Palomino (145 lbs.) and Isaac Palomino (195 lbs.), who both brought home fifth-place honors in their respective weight classes.
The Grizzlies just missed out on advancing four more wrestlers to Regionals. That included J.J. Rodriguez at 138 lbs.
The freshman led his loser-out/winners to Regionals match before surrendering two points in the last 10 seconds in a 3-2 loss to Kamiakin’s Cedar Ceja, who eventually battled back through the consolation bracket to take third-place honors.
Sunnyside’s 10 qualifiers will compete at Regionals this coming Saturday at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish. Paulus noted last night there is a bit of controversy surrounding the tourney’s bracket.
Paulus said school officials in Snohomish were at one point trying to shape the bracket to benefit their wrestlers at the host school. “They feel they have an opportunity to make the bracket because they’re hosting, but that’s not true,” said Paulus. “There’s a format that has to be followed.” He said that format, used last year, was approved by all 10 schools from this region in eastern Washington.
The top four finishers in each weight class at Regionals will advance to the Mat Classic in Tacoma.