SUNNYSIDE The Sunnyside girls wrestling team continued to soundly beat expectations as they won the team title and claimed four individual championships during the sub-regional wrestling tournament last weekend.
“We probably have the toughest sub-regionals in the state,” SHS Head Coach Dave Mendoza exclaimed. “We knew that there were a lot of match-ups that could go either way. Our girls were dynamite today and have been all season.”
The No. 1-seeded Lady Grizzlies amassed 313 points to capture the tournament championship and left no doubt about their strength of character, both on and off the mat.
“We lost a couple that we didn’t expect to lose. They wrestled their hearts out, and it’s a tough tournament. One of them was a senior, and that’s always heartbreaking, but that doesn’t define anybody as a person,” Mendoza declared.
Individual SHS champions include Stephanie Blankenship, 31-4 at 110 pounds, Riley Guerrero, 30-7 at 120 pounds, Cheyann Rendon, 32-8 at 140 pounds and Lourdes Torres, 33-3 at 155 pounds.
Blankenship won her first two matches by pin and the third as a result of decision.
In the championship round on mat No.1, Blankenship defeated Jazmine Mercado of Pasco, 3-1 during a scrappy match in which she revealed how she kind of forgot what the score was while telling herself to keep going and to leave it all out there on the mat.
“She’s an all-around good wrestler… I just knew that I had to give it my all. I had to wrestle my heart out and wrestle smart,” Blankenship stated. “Have faith and believe in myself… and, leave it all in God’s hands.”
Guerrero had a first round bye. She pinned the next two opponents and defeated her rival Alma Manzo of Connell, 2-0 in a fiercely contested match.
“We’ve gone back and forth throughout the season and last year. We’re two and two against each other… this was our closest match,” acknowledged Guerrero.
She clearly remembered how Manzo had defeated her 11-2 in their match last year.
“It’s good to be first, and I worked hard for it,” Guerrero said as she credited an improved physical conditioning and diet for her rise from No.9 in the wrestling rankings to No. 5.
Rendon also had a bye, won by pin and defeated her next two opponents by major decisions.
During the finals match, she dominated Ayanna Asselin of Kennewick with a major decision, 16-6.
“We knew everybody was capable because we’ve had girls step up every weekend. But they had to be at the top of their game for this tournament.” Mendoza voiced.
Torres proceeded through the opening round unchallenged. She pinned all three of her next competitors. “I’m proud of all my teammates and myself to have made it this far… We’ve all been working hard.”
For her title bout, Torres was locked in as she stepped onto the home mat and faced Asia Borisch of Kamiakin who she pinned in 1:31.
The Lady Griz grappler reported that she’s been training year-round to get to this point and feels like all her hard work has paid off. “Winning this march was just icing on the cake,” Torres added.
Before she received her championship tournament medal, Torres was already preparing herself and focused on training for regionals.
The No. 2-ranked wrestler was taking a no nonsense, one step at a time approach to achieving her upcoming goals.
Coach reaffirmed they would get back into the training room on Monday. Some of the things that appeared a little loose during the past weekend’s competition will be tightened up in practice as they prepare for the Regional tournament at Othello High School this coming Saturday.
“We have 11 wrestlers that qualified out of the team, and we’re really happy with that number,” Mendoza stated. He acknowledged that the 11 wrestlers who placed in the Top 8, exceeded his lofty expectations for Saturday’s tournament with the top four advancing to state.