State Wrestling Action from the Tacoma Dome • Daily Sun News • February 24, 2014 Podium repeat for Griz A SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE DAILY SUN NEWS 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 Congratulations Grizzly Wrestlers on a Great Job at State! W PHYSICAL&SPORTS S U N N Y S I D E T H E R A P Y Here to serve you. 1405 East Edison Ave. • Sunnyside 837-7400 hether on the mat, in the vineyard or in the office, everyone is an athlete, and injuries can set back your entire team. When injury strikes, see Sunnyside Physical & Sports Therapy for all your therapy needs. 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 email@example.com or at 837-4500.