RICHLAND - Missing wrestlers due to head, shoulder and back injuries, the Sunnyside Grizzlies leaned on its JV ranks to pull out a pair of dual match victories last Saturday.
On top of that, a fourth Grizzly sat out the double dual tilts at Southridge last Saturday due to weekend service in the National Guard.
Still, the Grizzlies reloaded for first a 40-36 win over the host Suns, then a 36-30 triumph over Rogers of Spokane.
In the opener against Southridge, Sunnyside had to rally for the nail-biter win as the Suns prevailed in four of the first six matches. The early Southridge run was interrupted by Sunnyside’s Daniel Avalos (182 lbs.) and Isaac Palomino (195 lbs.) with pins over Nermin Durakovic and Alex Lozano, respectively.
The Grizzlies responded by winning the next four matches; Elias Romero (106 lbs.) pinned Manny Casillas in 1:43, Jacob Mendoza (113 lbs.) pinned Sammy Negrete in 1:04, Jesse Barajas (120 lbs.) earned a 13-1 major decision over Cesar Flores and Homer Romero (126 lbs.) pinned Clayton Detmar in 5:40.
Back came the Suns, though, in winning the next three matches to grab a 36-34 lead heading into the final tilt at 152 lbs. Sunnyside’s Andy Gomez came through the challenge with flying colors, pinning A.J. Del Angel in 5:32 to earn the winning Grizzly points.
The match-up against Rogers ended with a close final score, but the Grizzlies built a big enough cushion that final match heroics weren’t needed.
The Grizzlies won six of the first eight matches in building up its advantage. Avalos defeated Delton Waggy of Rogers by a score of 6-4 and Palomino followed with a 2-0 decision over Marcus Robertson.
After Victor Ramos received a forfeit for Sunnyside at 220 lbs. and the Grizzlies fell in the 285-lb. match, Romero got Sunnyside rolling in the lighter weight classes. Romero pinned Wes Rattcliff in 3:17, and Mendoza followed with a pin in 3:40 over Cameron Compton.
Barajas kept the Sunnyside roll going with a pin in just 14 seconds over Austin Preston.
Rogers showed pluck, though, and rallied with three consecutive wins to pull within 30-24 with three matches still to go.
However, J.J. Rodriguez came through for Sunnyside with what proved to be the winning points, posting a third-round rally to defeat Eric McKay in the 145-lb. match.
Gomez stepped up next and he gave the Grizzlies even more of a cushion with a 4-1 decision over Kyle Bowning.
That put Sunnyside up 36-24 in the final match, which Rogers won by a pin for the final score.
Sunnyside returns to the mats this coming Thursday at Davis, before competing at the Westberg Invite in Ellensburg this coming Saturday.
Coach George Paulus say he’s hopeful some of his injured wrestlers may return in time for Saturday’s invite. “We’re hurting right now,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get healthy.”