KELSO — Sunnyside varsity girls’ wrestlers have been building upon their hard work and athletic drive to compete against the state’s best teams and after the initial day at the Kelso Girls Tournament, they were in first place before injuries took their toll.

The two-day competition featured more than 700 wrestlers from over 100 teams with 14 out of the state’s top programs that took part on Friday - Saturday, Jan. 10-11, at Kelso High School.

“We can’t score if we’re not on the mat,” coach Dave Mendoza conveyed as he assessed the tourney’s second day of struggles. The past few tournaments that we’ve taken third or fourth, we’ve had to try deal with some injuries and some other little things to try and get on track. Once we fix that, we’ll be fine.”

During the second day, coach said there were eight wrestlers competing for quarter final berths and were still in first place when suddenly a rash of injuries fell upon the team. “The girls are battling. They’re doing everything they can,” he said.

There were four wrestlers that could not finish the tournament and despite their loss, the team was still able to take fourth place in the major tournament. “We just didn’t have the bodies out there to be able to continue to score.”

The No. 1 ranked White River team brought home top honors with 197-points, followed by No. 13 Hanford, 190.5 and No. 19 Kennewick, 163.5 as they edged out No. 10 Grizzlies by 5.5 points, settling for fourth place. No. 2 Toppenish, No. 12 Granger, along with Grandview and Zillah also participated in the tournament, making a strong lower valley impression.

We have a young team and wrestling is a grinding sport. Some of the girls have wrestled 25 matches already. So, there’s going to be those little pains and aches and hurt that are not injuries but can be pushed through,” Mendoza explained.

The Grizzlies have a grueling schedule and lack the time to nurse those nagging aches and pains before getting back on the mat to compete. “The mindset has to be, if I’m okay and I’m not injured according to the doctor, how much pain are you willing to tolerate to be able to push through that threshold.”

Patrick Shelby can be contacted at 509-837-4500, ext. 110 or email

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