District wrestling this weekend

Sunnyside freshman Austin Villanueva and assistant coach Jason Moyer demonstrate a half Nelson load up to help the team as it prepares for postseason competition.

Photo by Jennie McGhan
Sunnyside freshman Austin Villanueva and assistant coach Jason Moyer demonstrate a half Nelson load up to help the team as it prepares for postseason competition.


Jayda Densen of the Grizzlies girls works her neck muscles at practice.

— The Grizzlies boys and girls wrestling teams are preparing for District tournaments taking place tomorrow through Saturday.

The boys will be at West Valley (Yakima) both days, while the girls will be at Granger High School on Saturday.

The Grizzlies boys, ranked No. 7 in the Jan. 28 Washington State wrestling polls, compete against their Columbia Basin Big 9 opponents from Davis, Eastmont, Eisenhower, Moses Lake, Wenatchee and West Valley.

The No. 10-ranked Grizzlies girls compete against all classifications, including No. 5 Granger and No. 6 Grandview, in the sub-regional tournament.

“We will have two competing at every weight,” Sunnyside boys coach George Paulus said.

Newly in effect is a 2-pound growth allowance, giving the Grizzlies more options regarding who wrestles at which weight. That allowance went into effect yesterday, Feb. 1.

The only weight class in which there will be just one competitor is 154 pounds. Anthony Moyer, 19-12 this season, wrestles at that weight, Paulus said.

The boys have this season won 7 team titles in as many tournaments. “And, we’re hoping to claim our eighth,” Paulus said.

“Our only blemish is the league title,” he said, noting the team lost the conference title to Moses Lake in a dual match last week.

“We didn’t have a very good night... hopefully, we can avenge it,” Paulus said.

The girls team is entering into the sub-regionals, which is large and will be packed with talent, Grizzlies girls coach Dave Mendoza said.

“We did whatever we could to expose them to large tournaments,” he said of the regular season.

“The varsity won the Dream Duals in Spokane, knocking off Warden,” Mendoza noted, stating Warden was the defending champion of the tournament.

He said eight girls from the 14 weight classes have more than 20 wins this season.

“Big things are expected of Lourdes Torres (155), Elizabet Espinoza (170) and Stephanie Blankenship (110),” Mendoza said.

Blankenship is No. 2 in her weight class, Torres is No. 7 and Espinoza is No. 8 in the current state rankings.

Both teams have potential champions among their ranks.

Paulus said seniors Daniel Huizar, No. 9 in the state at 220 pounds, and Jector Ramirez, No. 3 at 285 pounds, are among the top contenders for the District title. Huizar is 24-5 and Ramirez is 27-5 this season.

Jayden Villalobos shows potential at 132 pounds to be among the Top 2.

At 106, freshman Ignacio Payan has a record of 17-4 and is ranked No. 7 in the state, and Eli Barajas, 21-6, will be joining him in the bracket.

Samuel Guerrero is No. 12 at 113 pounds with a 15-8 record, and Andrew Macias (26-5), No. 4 at 120, is dropping a weight class to join Guerrero.

At 126 pounds will be No. 2-ranked Jose Campos and freshman Austin Villanueva, No. 10 at 132 pounds. Campos is 22-5 and Villanueva is 28-4.

“138 is deep in our league,” Paulus said.

Nathan Davila, 13-8, will be competing in that weight class, as will 23-10 Moises Zesati.

“At 145, we expect to do well,” Paulus said.

That’s because No. 4-ranked Izaiah Gonzalez, 24-8, will be taking on the opposition.

“160 is a tough weight,” Paulus said.

Stepping on the mats will be 20-13 Issac Rodriguez and 15-15 Alan Ochoa.

Josiah Rodriguez, a senior and last year’s only state champion, will not be competing due to an injury.

Paulus said his next two wrestlers — Clayton Robert and Ezrah Martinez — at 170 pounds “... are both talented.”

He expects wrestlers in the remaining weight classes to be in the finals, including Huizar and Ramirez.

Moises Morales (182) is No. 10 at 182 with a 20-9 season record.

“We’re thinking we have 10 to win either the title or second,” Paulus said.

Mendoza is also confident about several of his wrestlers.

In addition to Torres, Espinoza and Blankenship, he said Mireya Sanchez, No. 9 at 120 pounds, has been consistently in the Top 3 at tournaments.

“The surprise has been Riley Guerrero at 115,” Mendoza said.

The freshman is 39-9, but most of her losses were in the beginning of the season. In the past few weeks, she’s won 24 of her 25 matches.

“It’s been good to see her confidence built up,” Mendoza said.

He’s not discounting the talent among the lighter Grizzlies girls.

Mendoza said 100-pound Eliza Sandoval, and 105 pounders Aaliyah Chavez and Roxsanna Cisneros have been consistent.

“We’re still young, but can come away with the title,” he said.

“We’re ready to go.”

The Grizzlies girls will be competing against wrestlers from Davis, East Valley (Yakima), Eisenhower, Ellensburg, Grandview, Granger, Prosser, Selah, Toppenish and Wapato.

At 100 pounds, Granger’s Nizhoni Tallman is No. 3; Grandview’s Maria Reyes is No. 1 at 105 and Liliana Luna of Granger is No. 8; Granger’s Viktorya Torres is No. 1 at 115 pounds, and Olyvia Smith is No. 2; Grandview 130-pounder Jasel Perez is No. 4 and her teammate, Mollee Weddle, is No. 8; Estrella Pulgarin of Wapato is ranked No. 10 at 135 pounds; Mabton’s Sandra Urbina is No. 10 at 170 pounds; and at 190 pounds, Reyna Huecias of Mabton is No. 4 and Toppenish’s Jacqueline Luna is No. 6.


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