EAST WENATCHEE — A championship mentality begins with preparation was the message emphasized on the practice mat on Monday evening after the Sunnyside Girls Varsity Wrestling team won the LadyCat Classic Tournament on Friday, Dec. 7 at Eastmont High School.
Five starting team members were unavailable to compete at the tournament and the immediate response provided by the next five up helped bring home the win, signaling the start of making their 2019 season a meaningful one.
“We’re a pretty big team in terms of the number of wrestlers we have and one of the biggest teams in the state, but we really preach to the girls that everyone has a role and be ready,” coach Dave Mendoza stated. “Whenever we go into our practices, we try to emphasize that it’s not just a practice for the ones who are going to score points, it’s a practice for everybody.”
This team’s confident mindset is about being ready to step up into a varsity role when called upon. From the least to the most experienced wrestler, the girls embrace the high expectations they have set for themselves and as well as the squad. The success of the program relies on that strong foundation, coach said.
For 110-pound freshman Alexxus Ramos, who has been wrestling in club since she was eight years old, when she heard her name called out at the tournament was the moment it became all too real. She wasn’t expecting to even make varsity this season.
“I was so nervous. Like, I couldn’t sit still. I couldn’t think straight. But, for some reason I knew everything was going to be fine and would do good. I just couldn’t contain myself,” Ramos described as she spoke about the first time competing as a Grizzly.
The 14-year-old explained how she pushed through her nerves in the first match which set the tone as she proceeded to win her first tournament championship. Once Ramos stepped onto the mat, her focus was all about wrestling and earning as many team points as she could before pinning her first and second opponent.
“I was just so proud of myself and excited,” Ramos expressed when asked about what went through her mind on the bus trip back to Sunnyside. “I was watching the match in my head and rethinking about how happy I was.”
During the team’s preparation for Moses Lake on Wednesday, their attention was back on to holding themselves as well as their teammates accountable in maintaining a championship attitude. “I’ve got to look forward now. It’s time to focus on Wednesday’s match,” Ramos acknowledged.
“They work hard. What we lack in technique sometimes, I don’t question their heart. Every day, we have an opportunity to tell these girls that this was the best practice we’ve had. And, it seems like we’re doing that every day,” Mendoza stated.
Upcoming matches – Moses Lake at home on Wednesday, Dec. 11, JV starts at 6 p.m. with varsity at 7.
Varsity team will attend the Rose City Championships in Beaverton, Ore., on Saturday, Dec. 14., while JV participates in the Granger Invite at 9 a.m.