SUNNYSIDE Both the boys and girls Grizzly wrestling teams dispatched Eastmont in the first home dual of the season.
The boys prevailed 65-15, while the girls defeated the visiting Wildcats 60-18.
Girls coach Dave Mendoza felt the match-up would be a good challenge for the Lady Grizzlies, currently ranked No. 4 in the state.
“They’re a big team and will give us a chance to show ourselves,” he said before the first bout started.
The wrestling teams have been on the road the past few weeks and were eager to be in front of the home crowd, Mendoza said.
Coming off winning team titles at the Hammerhead Invitational and Wildcat Classic, he said there have been some positive highlights from seniors Stephanie Blankenship, Lourdes Torres and Mireya Sanchez, as well as teammates Eliza Rodriguez, Riley Guerrero and Cheyann Rendon.
“The whole team is looking good,” Mendoza said.
Blankenship, fresh off the mat after wrestling at 125 instead of her typical 120 pounds, has hopes of returning to the Mat Classic this season.
Last season, the currently No. 3-ranked competitor at 120 pounds, suffered an injured rotator cuff and wasn’t able to compete in the postseason. But she was fourth her sophomore year and second her freshman year.
“God willing, I will compete this season,” Blankenship said.
Of the Tuesday match-up in which she pinned Gisselle Kiehne in 1:28, she said it was different.
“The body mass is different… I could tell,” Blankenship said, noting she enjoyed the challenge.
Sanchez also wrestled at a heavier weight than she is accustomed. Customarily a 130-pound wrestler, she took on 135-pound Carissa Miller and won via pin in 2:36.
“It’s a good experience… somewhat a challenge, especially because I had to run for an hour prior to the match,” she laughed.
In the recent tournaments, Sanchez was second twice and champion once.
“It says I am working for it… I hope to get to state,” she said.
Torres, the 2018 state runner-up at 155 pounds, is reaching for a state title. She is currently ranked No. 4 in the state.
“I am blessed to have a team that works hard and is committed… it’s very special, and we have a lot of talent this year,” she said.
Winning a state title is possible she believes. The girl who won the championship last February graduated and Torres said she’s been working extra hard, attending different camps to improve.
“There are a lot of different coaches and teammates behind me, helping me so I can reach my goal,” Torres said, adding she wants the Lady Grizzlies to claim the team title, making history in the school’s “female division.”
Torres won her match Tuesday with a pin in 1:54 over Maria Sanchez-Acosta.
While the girls were busy picking up a win on their mat, the No. 6 state-ranked boys, too were busy on their mat.
Six Grizzlies pinned their opponents, including senior Izaiah Gonzalez at 170 pounds. It took him just 1:08 to subdue Skylar Dawe of the Wildcats.
As he watched some of the younger competitors on the mat, Gonzalez said he sees everything from a different perspective.
“It’s good to see the younger guys doing well, and being able to help them,” Gonzalez said.
His personal goal is to help the team get to the Mat Classic.
Personally, Gonzalez wants “… to go into the postseason strong, winning as many matches as I can, not just for me but the team.”
He said pinning Dawe in the first round “… felt good — getting out there and scoring points.
“Yeah, I flew into the match and felt like it was my match,” Gonzalez said, adding he felt he had control from start to finish.
Teammate Samuel Guerrero (113 lbs.) did not get to wrestle against Eastmont because the Wildcats forfeited.
Ranked No. 12 in the state, the senior is also hoping for a return appearance. He was second in 2016 and believes the Grizzlies will have a large contingency at the Mat Classic at the end of this season.
“I hope for a team title,” Guerrero said.
He feels confident about the season, having medaled at each of the tournaments the team has competed in thus far.