As of Monday, January 18, 2016
ELLENSBURG With seven finalists, Sunnyside’s boys wrestling team easily captured first-place honors at Saturday’s Ray Westberg Invitational.
The Grizzlies had 232 team points, followed by Othello at 168, WF West 153.5 and the host Bulldogs at 139.
“Seven wrestlers in the finals, that was pretty cool,” coach George Paulus said.
Three of the finalists brought home titles, including Jacob Mendoza at 126 pounds. He so overwhelmed the competition in four all of his matches, that coaches named Mendoza the outstanding wrestler in the 106 to 145 pound weight classes.
“He clearly dominated the tournament,” Paulus said.
Mendoza’s toughest test, if it could be called that, came in the championships, where he defeated Southridge’s Mikael Failor 8-2. “The kid’s pretty tough, he was in the finals at the Hanford tournament,” Paulus said of Failor. “But Jacob was a little more schooled than him.”
Josiah Rodriguez won the title at 132 pounds for Sunnyside, besting Eisenhower’s Julian Alonso 9-6 in the finals.
The Grizzlies third titlist was Elias Romero (120 pounds), a 5-0 victor in the finals over Wapato’s Alex Vaca.
Sunnyside’s four runner-ups included Diego Castaneda at 145 pounds. Casteanda was cruising through the bracket before injury derailed his title bid.
“He was winning 11-0 in the semifinals and he landed on his hip a little awkward,” Paulus said. Castaneda gutted out an 18-4 victory in the semifinals, but Paulus declared and injury default and withdrew his wrestler from the finale.
“I told him this isn’t the prize we want, we wanted to be conservative,” the coach said.
Alex Rodriguez (285 pounds), J.J. Rodriguez (152 pounds) and Jector Ramirez (220 pounds) were Sunnyside’s other second-place winners.
Jose Campos (113 pounds), Daniel Huizar (195 pounds) and Allen Moyer (138 pounds) brought home third place medals for Sunnyside.
The Grizzlies don’t have much time to admire their bling, as they host Davis at 7 p.m. tomorrow in a key Big 9 match. Sunnyside sits in second place in the league standings, but an improved Davis squad is close behind.
“Davis doesn’t have a lot of kids, but the ones they have are pretty good,” Paulus said. “It will be an interesting match and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll have Castaneda back.”
With or without Castaneda, the Grizzlies seem to be hitting their stride with two tournament titles in as many weeks.
“We’re starting to show some of the stuff we’ve been working out in practice,” Paulus said. ‘The kids are buying into it real well and the results are showing.”