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State Wrestling Action from the Tacoma Dome • Daily Sun News • February 24, 2014


Sunnyside wrestlers third at State

by John Fannin

TACOMA – Despite only five of its eight qualifiers advancing to the medal round, the Sunnyside Grizzly wrestling team made the most of its numbers in garnering third place team honors among 3A schools during the Mat Classic XXVI last Friday and Satur-

row. The Grizzlies’ previous repeat podium appearance happened, he estimates, back in the late 70s and early 80s when Sunnyside won four consecutive state titles. Paulus also noted that it was one of the closest outcomes at the State tourney in perhaps 20 years, with just 11.5 points separating the top three teams.

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Grizzly Jesse Torres puts opponent Benjamin Dixon of Mountainview on his back during the 113-lb. championship match. day. Sunnyside finished with 97 team points, just back of runner-up Decatur at 100 and champion North Central at 108.5 points. It was the second consecutive year for the Grizzlies to earn third-place team honors at the Tacoma Dome’s Mat Classic. Grizzly Coach George Paulus figures it’s probably the time in 30 years that Sunnyside’s wrestling team garnered a State trophy two years in a

“I can’t ever remember a tighter tournament than this one,” says Paulus, who has coached wrestling in the Sunnyside School District for more than three decades. “It was one of the closest ever.” Sunnyside, which was in sixth place after Friday’s action, did all of its damage in the three lightest weight classes, including taking two individual titles. Jesse Barajas (120 lbs.) nipped Decatur’s Trysten

Dawson 9-8 in the championship match to earn top honors. Barajas, a State champion last year at 113 lbs., trailed the match 7-4 at one point against Dawson, who the Grizzly senior defeated 13-3 earlier this season at Hanford. Paulus gave credit to Dawson and the Decatur coaching staff for doing their homework after Barajas thumped him back in December. “The kid had everything down that Jesse did,” said Paulus. “He had a counter every time.” The other Grizzly champ was Jesse Torres (113 lbs.), who had a bit easier time of things in dispatching Mountainview’s Benjamin Dixon 11-6 in the title tilt. Paulus said the score would have been even more lopsided if not for two questionable penalty points assessed against Torres for stalling. “Jesse put him on his back, he scored 11 points. How is it that he stalled?” The coach said Torres, a junior who began the postseason as a JV qualifier, dominated the entire field at State. “He really impressed me to the max. He was just too superior, too fast.” Sunnyside’s Jacob Mendoza (106 lbs.) also advanced to the championship match in his weight class, but was defeated 5-0 by North Central’s Clai Quintanilla. “Mendoza put together a heck of a tournament,” said Paulus.

Homer Romero of Sunnyside (L) aims for a takedown of Highline’s Zach Edson during the Grizzly grappler’s victory in the seventh/ eighth place match. Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Grizzly Jesse Barajas is all smiles after earning the State championship at 120 lbs. Barajas had to rally from a three-point deficit to secure the win. Also in the 106-lb. bracket, Grizzly Elias Romero earned fifth-place honors with a 7-0 white-washing of Timberline’s Parker Risk in the fifth/sixth place match. “We were so elated with Elias because he came through that thing with a do or die match on Friday,” said Paulus. That pivotal “do or die” match, what Paulus called Romero’s match of the year, was Friday night against Bonney Lake’s Carson Corbaley. Romero stunned Corbaley, the State’s second-ranked wrestler at 106 lbs., with a 4-2 victory in overtime. The upset victory thrust Romero, a freshman who had to battle through a JV qualifier to start the postseason, into the medal round and ensured Sunnyside key points to secure a team podium berth. The other Grizzly to take the podium was Homer Romero (113 lbs.), who secured seventh-place honors when he pinned Highline’s Zach Edson in 2:01 in the seventh/eighth place match.

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Sunnyside’s coaching staff reacts to action on the mat during the State tournament last Saturday. “We were hoping for a finals match for Homer against Jesse Torres, but he lost by one point to Dixon,” said Paulus. “If that would have happened (an all-Sunnyside finale in the 113lb. championship match) we would have won the tourney.” Paulus praised his wrestlers, especially the five who battled for hardware, for their tenacity in seeing the Grizzlies through to the podium despite an injury-plagued season. “It’s been quite a year, it’s a credit to the kids to come through, a testament to the kids and their talent,” the coach said. As for next year, Sunnyside will bring back six wrestlers who were at the Mat Classic this past weekend. Those familiar faces will be helpful as next season the Grizzlies move up to the 4A ranks. “Our enrollment has grown

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and we’ve got the numbers to be 4A,” said Paulus. “I have mixed feelings about it, we have a comfort level with the 3A schools and there will be no comfort next year.” Paulus noted Sunnyside’s challenge will be made more difficult next year because North Central and Decatur are also advancing from the 3A to the 4A ranks along with Sunnyside. Yet, Paulus has high hopes for his Grizzlies and the State experience they’re returning next season. “It’s going to be an interesting year, a challenging year, but I think we’re set up pretty good to make that transition. We’ve got the ability to compete next year.” - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

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february 24, 2014

Lady Greyhounds bring home two State titles TACOMA – The Lady Greyhounds went undefeated at Mat Classic XXVI in the Tacoma Dome this past weekend, bringing home two championships to Grandview. Defending state champion Marizza Birrueta (106 lbs.) picked up where she left off last year by recording two straight pins to begin her title defense. In her opening match Birrueta pinned Alexis Perry of Lakewood in 1:28. In the quarterfinals she pinned Abby Humphreys of Rogers Puyallup nearly as fast, in 1:30. In the semifinals she dominated Brenda Reyna of Mount Vernon, defeating her by a score of 10-3. In the championship match, Birrueta had a rematch with an opponent she had faced at the Henry Foss Women’s Invitational in late January, Haley Franich of Puyallup. In that match the GHS junior had easily defeated Franich, scoring a second round pin. The rematch, however, was a lot closer. Birrueta got out to an early 5-0 lead and it looked like she might have another easy win, but Franich came back. “Marizza’s finals match got a little scary,” said Grandview Coach Jeff Sevigny. “She was cruising along, but near the end of the second period got caught on her back and nearly got pinned. Other than that span of about 30 seconds, she really dominated the match.” Birrueta fought off her back and was able to score a 5-4 win to secure her second consecutive State title. GHS sophomore Desiree Zavala also had a very fast start with two pins of her own. The 124-lb. State titlist last year, Zavala – now wrestling at 130 lbs. – scored a pin over Kendra Blue of White River in 2:59. In her quarterfinal match Zavala was just as dominant with pin over Kendra Dickson of Tumwater in 3:33. In her semifinal match, Zavala had a rematch from the Sub Regional tournament where she faced Jesenia Meza of Mabton. Zavala won by an injury default in the first period of that earlier match. In the rematch this past weekend she dominated with a 9-0 major decision. The finals was a match of two defending State champions. Zavala won her title last year at 124 lbs. She moved up a weight class for this year and faced last year’s defending State champion from 130, Maria Horton of

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Lady Greyhound Desiree Zavala (130-lbs.) pins Maria Horton of Kelso in the finals. Zavala earned the pin in less than two minutes to claim the State title. Kelso. “We expected a possible tough match that might even be low scoring,” said Sevigny. “But from the opening whistle Desiree was the aggressor and took the match to Horton.” After scoring a takedown in the first 15 seconds, Zavala didn’t let up. She turned Horton

to her back and recorded a pin in 1:16 to pick up her second State title. “(Horton) had looked pretty impressive earlier in the tournament but Desiree just took her apart,” said Sevigny. “The match was never in doubt after the first 15 seconds.” Once again the Grandview girls wrestling team finished in the top 10. The team finished with 55 points, and most likely would have finished in the top three, according to Sevigny, if they hadn’t lost a wrestler to a knee injury the day before the District tournament. “This year we placed seventh, only a half point out of sixth, two points out of fifth and five points out of fourth,” he said. “With Viannei (Perez) there

we may have even jumped as high as second, because we really expected her to make the finals.” The Lady Greyhounds placed fourth in last year’s tournament. Sevigny described the tournament as incredible for Grandview. The boys team also returned with two individual State titles. “We were all walking on air,” he said.

Grandview High School Coach Jeff Sevigny yells instructions to Desiree Zavala during her semi-final match. “I was waiting for someone to wake me up from the dream,” he Rod Smith/Daily Sun News said after all five of Grandview’s Marizza Birrueta rolls Haley Franich of Puyallup onto her back in the championship match. After going out to an early 5-0 lead, Birrueta was nearly pinned his wrestlers made it to the tourney finals. by Franich. Birrueta managed to fight back and won a nail-biting 5-4 decision.

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Greyhounds return triumphant pin in the semifinals, this time over Daniel Montesa of River Ridge in 2:40. In the finals Castaneda faced defending State champion Glenn Robertson of Fife. “Diego had wrestled Robertson last season in one of his first matches of his high school career,” said Sevigny. “In that match Diego came up just short, losing by one point. Diego wasn’t going to let that happen again.” Although Castaneda gave up the first takedown, he was able to escape at the end of the first period to trail only 2-1. In the second period Castaneda controlled Robertson. He scored a second period pin with one second left, at 3:59, to earn his State title. “Diego was on fire this weekend,” said Sevigny. “Everything he did seemed to work out right for him.” Placing second for the Greyhounds was senior Joesiah Saunders, wrestling at 138 lbs. “Joesiah wrestled at one of the toughest weight classes at the State tournament,” said Sevigny. He opened the tourney with a first period pin over Austin Stone of R.A. Long in 1:57. In the quarterfinals he faced Trevor Kurtz of White River. Kurtz had placed fourth at last year’s State tournament. In this weekend’s match, Saunders fell behind 3-0 but was able to fight back and pull out a 6-3 win. In the semifinals Saunders had his own rematch with Gabe Meyer of East Valley Spokane. “Joesiah defeated Meyer 3-1 Rod Smith/Daily Sun News last week in a very close and Greyhound Joesiah Saunders tries to roll out of a hold tough match,” said Sevigny. by Gabe Meyer of East Valley Spokane. Saunders even- “This time was no different.” Saunders came from betually won the semifinal match by a close 4-3 decision. TACOMA – The Greyhounds were undefeated until their final match of the Mat Classic XXVI in the Tacoma Dome this past weekend, racking up two championships and a second-place finish with only three wrestlers at the tournament. Senior Fidel Medina (113 lbs.) opened the tournament for Grandview with a tough match against Bailey McBride of Cedercrest. McBride was listed as a No. 4 seed, but didn’t wrestle like it. “It turned out the kid had injury defaulted at the regional tournament to fourth place,” said Grandview Coach Jeff Sevigny. “He should have won their Regionals but ended up at No. 4. Getting by that match was the toughest part for Fidel. From that point on he was a monster.” After falling behind early, 6-2, Medina made a comeback to pull out a 9-8 decision

against McBride. “Getting past that opening match seemed to just make (Medina) more intense, because he won his next two matches by pin,” said Sevigny. In the quarterfinals Medina pinned Matt Zink of North Mason in 5:09 and then pinned Hugo Diaz of Burlington Edison in 5:04 in the semifinals. In the finals Medina had a rematch against Aaron Klauder of Deer Park, whom Medina defeated in last week’s Regional championship. The result was a repeat, with Medina beating his opponent by an 8-4 decision to earn the State title. Grandview sophomore Diego Castaneda (132 lbs.) was on his first trip to the Tacoma Dome, and started out strong with a pin over Arlyss Jenkins of Granite Falls in 2:35. In the quarterfinals Castaneda scored a convincing 11-4 win over Chris Ridner of Orting, followed by another

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Grandview’s Fidel Medina gets a hug from teammate Marizza Birrueta after winning the championship. Birrueta also won the title in her weight class. hind to pull out a 4-3 win and advance to the championship match. In the final match Saunders faced Brian Burchett of Klahowya. Burchett had placed three times in the tournament, earning third place once and second place twice. “In this match Burchett

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Grandview’s Diego Castaneda catches Daniel Montesa of River Ridge in a lock. Castaneda eventually pinned Montesa on his way to winning the State title. Sevigny had nothing but wasn’t going to be denied his State title,” said Sevigny. praise for Saunders. “Joesiah has absolutely “Even though Joesiah gave it everything he had, Burchett nothing to be ashamed of with was able to come away with a the second place finish,” he 12-1 win.” see "Greyhounds" back page

Cardenas, Starke spark Sunnyside girls at Mat Classic by John Fannin

TACOMA – With a host of first-timers to State, the Sunnyside Lady Grizzly wrestling team still found a way to shake off the opening jitters and compete at the Mat Classic last Friday and Saturday. Sunnyside was led by Jessica Cardenas (170 lbs.) and Jasmine Starke (235 lbs.), as both earned a podium spot to help the Lady Grizzlies to a 19th place team finish with 26 points. Warden garnered top honors with 104.5 points. “It was a very new experience for a lot of them,” said Sunnyside Coach Terry Shines. “That setting can be overwhelming the first time you experience it,” he added of the Tacoma Dome location for all of the state’s wrestling tourneys at one time over the same weekend. Both Cardenas and Starke struggled early on, with each losing their second matches. Cardenas, who lost just once during the

regular season, fought back through the consolation bracket to grab fifth place honors. She pinned Othello’s Rosana Pena just 31 seconds into the fifth/sixth place match. “Jessica has always been a tough wrestler,” said Shines. “She had to battle back after she reinjured her elbow in the last match.” Starke, Shines added, had to not only overcome an early loss but hestiation in the early rounds to bring home the sixth place medal. “Jasmine was timid at first, but she turned on the switch in the third match,” he said. “Once she got over that mental block she was fine.” Starke secured sixth place honors, getting pinned in the fifth/sixth place match by Warden’s Andrea Contreras. see "Sunnyside" page back page

Jessica Cardenas is pictured in action in the fifth/sixth place match at State, making quick work of Othello’s Rosana Pena with a pin in just 31 seconds.

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february 24, 2014

Meza brings home hardware for Lady Vikings by Jennie McGhan

MABTON – Mabton’s Jesenia Meza was the lone Viking grappler to bring home State hardware this past Saturday. The Lady Viking earned fifth-place honors at the 2014 Mat Classic, having performed well until she faced eventual 130-lb. champion Desiree Zavala of Grandview, who has powerful family ties to the community of Mabton. Meza opened the State tournament with a 7-6 decision over Belen Simpson of Steilacoom on Friday. She advanced to the second round to overpower Haven Camden of Washougal, winning the bout by pin in just 38 seconds. Mabton Coach John Kilian said, “She wrestled really well on Friday…Saturday was not as good.” He said Meza was able to catch Camden off balance, get her on her back and secure the pin. “We were ready for a six-minute match…everyone was stunned.” It was the next round of action, the semifinals on Saturday, that moved Meza into the consolation brackets. Meza and Zavala met up with one another. The pair have a history with one another. In the District tournament earlier this month, Meza took runner-up honors to the Lady Greyhound after being injured during the finals match. “Wrestling Zavala is like climbing up hill with a 400-lb. pack,” said Kilian. He said the goal was to keep from getting pinned and “…Jesenia stalled with the best of them.” Zavala was the eventual winner of the bout by a 9-0 decision. Meza had two more matches left in her. She suffered a fall in 3:41 to Olivia Adams of Blaine before competing for the fifth-place medal. The Lady Viking on Saturday afternoon won the bout against Chloe Spencer of Ephrata by injury default. “Jesenia has so much natural talent,” said

Kilian, stating he was pleased the senior grappler was able to do so well. It was the second State appearance for Meza, who earned eighth-place honors two years ago. Meza’s teammate, Noemi Gutierrez, didn’t fare as well at the State tourney. The 112-lb. Lady Viking couldn’t keep up with the opposition. She opened the tournament by sustaining a fall to Mariah Roggow of Kelso in 3:29. Roggow was the eventual third-place medalist. “Noemi fought pretty hard…we knew it would be tough,” said Kilian. The loss forced Gutierrez into the consolation brackets where she met up with Tori Barnes of Sedro Woolley. Barnes pinned the Lady Viking in 1:47, ending Gutierrez’s Mabton Coach John Kilian tells his wrestler, Jesenia Meza, to choose a neutral starting position during Saturday’s State tournament action. State experience. “Noemi is a sophomore…she is young,” said Kilian. “She let the nerves get the best of her against Tori.” He said Gutierrez psyched herself out in the final match, but experience will help her in future seasons.

‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Mabton High School’s Jesenia Meza (130 lbs.) lifts Grandview’s Desiree Zavala while going for a takedown in the semi-finals this past Saturday. Zavala was the eventual champion in their weight class.

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Shines said Sunnyside had some other girls who were near misses for the podium, including Daisy Chavez and Cassidy Ochoa. The good news, he adds, is that all eight of Sunnyside’s State competitors are returning next year. That includes Starke and Cardenas, who are both juniors. Shines says he and the girls talked after Saturday’s finale, and they agreed that the key to getting more State medalists next season starts with the off-season. “We need to wrestle more in the off-season and get in the weight room.” He notes that although Sunnyside is moving up to the 4A classification next year, the state girls wrestling tournament will still be a mixed group of all classes in one. “The girls division is blowing up, it’s grown even more since last year,” says Shines. He anticipates that in the next six or seven years high school girls wrestling will move to the different classifications found in other

said. “He just kept fighting back the entire tournament. His weight class was incredibly tough and he just kept knocking people off. In the finals he just ran up against an outstanding wrestler. “He had a great year and a great career at Grandview. He has been an amazing part of our program for the past four years and we are definitely going to miss him.” With only three wrestlers, the Grandview team still managed to place eighth at State. Grandview was the third highest placing team from the CWAC league behind only Othello, which finished in fourth and Toppenish in sixth.

Rod Smith/Daily Sun News

Sunnyside’s Jasmine Starke gets the upper hand against Lisa Hernandez of Sehome on the way to earning sixth-place honors at the Mat Classic last Saturday. sports. “I think it’s here to stay,” he says of girls wrestling. “Down the road it’ll be as big as the boys.” - John Fannin can be reached at or at 837-4500.

Sevigny said he’s walking on air after his team’s excellent performance. The Lady Greyhounds also returned home with two individual State titles. “Holy smokes…. it was incredible,” he said. “After the first round of the tournament we were excited about going 5-0. After the second round we couldn’t believe that we were 10-0. With all five in the semis that meant they were all medalists and were in the top six. “After the semis and all five had made the finals, I was waiting for someone to wake me up from the dream.” Sevigny said that he had believed all his wrestlers

had a shot at reaching the finals, but it was impressive to watch everything fall into place. “After each match of the finals we just couldn’t believe it could get any better but it just did,” he said. “It was definitely a team effort. Everyone was pulling for each other. It just sort of steamrolled. One match after the other all weekend long.” Sevigny said the most difficult part of the weekend for the team was the fact that it seemed Grandview always had two wrestlers on the mat at the same time. “As coaches we were running around all weekend,” he said.

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