LEADING THE PUSH

LEADING THE PUSH — Sunnyside High School senior Allen Ochoa sets the pace on the practice mat during the Grizzlies Monday workout. Ochoa won a first-place championship and received “Best Wrestler” award at the Dick Pruett Memorial Invite on Saturday, Jan. 4.

KENT — There are times when athletes are recognized for their outstanding contributions as members of a first-place team and following the varsity boys’ dominating win at the Dick Pruett Memorial Invite, two Sunnyside wrestlers also received “Best Wrestler” awards on Saturday, Jan. 4.

Besides winning their first-place championships, sophomore Edward Villanueva representing the 145-pound and below weight class, along with senior Allen Ochoa of 152 and above, were presented top accolades after a vote from 17 tourney coaches at Kent-Meridian High School.

“I was happy, and it felt really good that they (coaches) noticed my hard work that I’ve put in and picked me to be one of the outstanding wrestlers,” Ochoa mildly conveyed during Monday’s after school practice.

Wrestling in the 170 lb. division, Ochoa said he planned to review his match tactics with coaches and to identify those areas where improvement was needed.

“I still have a lot to work on and improve but I think it will pay off in the end,” he added while remaining hopeful on bringing back more hardware in the post season.

“Not only did we get the team total by 83.5 points, we got the two outstanding wrestler awards too. Pretty cool,” coach George Paulus expressed. “It’s always good to be recognized for your accomplishments and they both received a plaque in addition to their medals. So, it was a good day for Sunnyside.”

Eight Grizzly wrestlers competed in the finals with 6 winning first place championships and two bringing home second place honors. The overall number of finalists could have been more Paulus noted.

Jeydian Salazar and Jaden Siller were only seconds away from advancing beyond their semifinal matches before a costly penalty and untimely mistake proved to be the difference. “… we almost put two more in, which is good because they’ll learn from it. So, it’s fine.”

Both wrestlers went on to claim fourth place finishes in their 182 and 220 lb. respective weight classes.

194 wrestlers from 17 teams took part in the mid-season tourney as No.2 ranked 4A Grizzlies won the tournament with a 265 score, followed by No. 18 Enumclaw’s 181.5 total.

The tournament was a well-timed tune up as Sunnyside (1-0, Big 9) looked to return from winter break on Monday and resume regular class and practice schedules, while preparing for an upcoming conference road match against Eastmont (2-0) on Thursday, Jan. 9.

After returning from their match, the varsity team will have the weekend off to heal up for a strong second half push.

Coach Paulus refers to the JV squad as the (B) team because those wrestlers are used frequently to fill varsity positions. They will participate at the Chiawana JV Duals on Saturday, Jan. 11

Correction: In the Wednesday, Jan 1, edition of the Sunnyside Sun, the boys wrestling story on A7 should read, “according to coach… 145 lb. and below.”

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

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