In a field heavy with highly-ranked teams and state-trophy contenders, Toppenish had the talent and depth to upstage them all at Saturday’s 23rd annual SunDome Mat Classic wrestling tournament.
Led by champions Sergio Morales and Brent Evans, the Wildcats loaded the awards podium with 10 placers and piled up 166 points to pull away from runner-up Granger for the program’s first SunDome title since 1997.
“We like the big tournaments because that’s when you find out how things stack up,” said Morales, who captured the 126-pound title with the only pin in the championship finals. “It’s also a chance to see what kind of challenges are ahead. We’ve got a couple more in a few weeks — at Hermiston and Vancouver — so we look forward to those, too.”
Granger had a trio of second-place finishers to power its 153-point total in the 27-team field.
It was a strong day locally — beyond the 1-2 finish by Toppenish and Granger — as nine Valley schools had championship finalists and five came away winners. In addition to Toppenish’s victorious tandem, Davis’ Ramiro Ortiz Lombera (113), Sunnyside’s Jesse Barajas (120) and East Valley’s Logan Merkle (160) earned first-place medals.
For Toppenish, which had six placers in the top four, Morales put on a show with a 13-0 major decision in the first round followed by three straight pins. Not bad for a kid who lost two of three matches here a year ago and didn’t place.
“That was a bad day, but no excuses. I got put out,” Morales said. “This year I came in here thinking, ‘That’s not going to happen again.’ I stayed composed and wrestled smart.”
Morales pinned Sunnyside’s Anthony Chavez in the second period of the 126 final, lifting his season record to 10-0.
Evans didn’t have his teammate’s pins but he had plenty of points in the 152 bracket, outscoring his four opponents 54-19 and besting Goldendale’s Dean Enstad 9-3 in the final.
Lombera, a junior, handled the 113 bracket without a serious challenge, recording decisions of 11-1 and 9-2 with a pin en route to the final where he defeated Hanford’s Blake Llarenas 8-2.
Defending champion Sunnyside did not have its full varsity lineup but Barajas made sure the Grizzlies were well represented with the 120 title. Last season’s 3A state champion at 113, Barajas fought through some tough matches and got better as the day went along, ending with a 14-8 victory over Granger’s Ricky Almaguer in the final.
“As a state champion, I know there’s a target on me,” Barajas said. “I’ve been training hard and doing extra, knowing I’ll get everybody’s best shot. There were some real good guys here today and it was tough. But that’s good — it’s great to get challenged. Days like this make you better.”
Merkle, a senior who won a SunDome title as a freshman, added three more pins to his season streak before finally having to go the distance in the 160 final. He defeated Eisenhower’s Adrian Luna 8-2.
Fife’s Glenn Robertson earned a hard-fought 5-0 decision over Granger’s Victor Almaguer in the 132 final to claim his third consecutive SunDome title. Teammate Monike Sarte won the heavyweight bracket for the second straight year, and Tyrus Kemp of Ephrata (195) and Jace Malek of West Valley-Spokane (220) were also repeat winners.
Toppenish 166, Granger 153, Fife 149, Othello 145.5, Ellensburg 139, Ephrata 133.5, Zillah 131.5, Sunnyside 131, West Valley-Spokane 129, Cheney 113, Klahowya 93, Peninsula 88.5, Eisenhower 84, Hanford 83, Davis 80, Wenatchee 79.5, Kennewick 71, West Valley-Yakima 70, River Ridge 60.5, Naches Valley 58, Bellingham 56, East Valley-Yakima 51, Goldendale 39, Highland 35, Wapato 33, Prosser 13, White Swan 11.
106 — Championship: Isaiah Barrera (Oth) d. Jacob Mendoza (Su), 7-4. Placers: 3, Chuco Cisneros (Gr); 4, Michael Campigotto (Pen); 5, Diego Nunez (Davis); 6, Austin Simmons (NV); 7, Andre Romero (Wap); 8, Elizabeth Galvez) (Topp).
113 — Championship: Ramiro Ortiz Lombera (Davis) d. Blake Llarenas (Han), 8-2. Placers: 3, Francisco Chavez (Topp); 4, Garrett Cheney (Ell); 5, Drake Lewis (Wen); 6, Fabian Garcia (Ike); 7, Wyatt Davis (WVS); 8, Boshyar Medera (Su).
120 — Championship: Jesse Barajas (Su) d. Ricky Almaguer (Davis), 14-8. Placers: 3, Josue Rodriguez (Topp-NS); 4, Alec Lauriano (Oth); 5, Juan Pablo Salcedo (High); 6, Cameron Conner (WVS); 7, Lane Bruland (WVY); 8, Moises Montiel (Topp).
126 — Championship: Sergio Morales (Topp) p. Anthony Chavez (Su), 3:11. Placers: 3, Alejandro Ramos (Kenn); 4, Cristian Contreras (Ell); 5, Riley Takemura (Bell); 6, Travis Lyman (Ell-NS); 7, David Godinez (Topp-NS); 8, Daniel Barnes (Fife).
132 — Championship: Glenn Robertson (Fife) d. Victor Almaguer (Gr), 5-0. Placers: 3, Manny Martinez (Oth); 4, Daniel Montesa (RR); 5, Steven Martinez (Topp); 6, Kasey Johnson (Z); 7, Andrew Lape (Wen); 8, Joseph St. George (Z-NS).
138 — Championship: Brian Burchett (Kla) d. Diego Hernandez (Z), 6-4. Placers: 3, Brad Reddaway (Fife); 4, Joey Escobar (Topp); 5, Jonah Macias (Gr); 6, Lorenzo Garza (Oth); 7, Derek Stanelle (NV); 8, Nikita Wall (Eph).
145 — Championship: Vern Sanderson (Chen) d. Cristian Francisco (Z), 11-7. Placers: 3, Omar Acevedo (Ike); 4, Juan Sandoval (Gr); 5, Allyn Burve (Ell); 6, Zech Romero (Topp); 7, Zach Volk (Fife); 8, Drake Ferguson (WVS).
152 — Championship: Brent Evans (Topp) d. Dean Enstad (Go), 9-3. Placers: 3, William Lester (Pen); 4, Derrick Trinkle (WVS); 5, Devyn Daniels (Z); 6, Julian Adame (Eph); 7, Eli Everson (Kla); 8, Cody Empert (Chen).
160 — Championship: Logan Merkle (EVS) d. Adrian Luna (Ike), 8-2. Placers: 3, Tyler McTee (NV); 4, Keigan Langhoff (Kla); 5, Malik Slack (Han); 6, Bryce Unruh (Eph); 7, Shawn Christensen (Su); 8, Quintin Stansbury (WVS).
170 — Championship: Dalton Balentine (Eph) d. David Cantu (Gr), 3-2. Placers: 3, Mark Bradley (WVY); 4, Kyle Shriver (Kenn); 5, Konnor Langhoff (Kla); 6, Tait Stevenson (Ell); 7, Ethan Tuning (Z); 8, Jose Becerra (Ike-NS).
182 — Championship: Josh Wessels (Chen) d. Brian Timme (Ell), 5-2. Placers: 3, Daniel Avalos (Su); 4, Isaac Anaya (Topp); 5, Chris Warford (Z); 6, Blayne Haderman (RR); 7, Jecsan Perez (Davis); 8, Tanner Knapp (Fife).
195 — Championship: Tyrus Kemp (Eph) d. Jason Glenn (Ell), 1-0. Placers: 3, Chance Stolz (Pen); 4, Allen Richards (Fife); 5, Kerrigan Simpson (Ell-NS); 6, Michael Ferguson (Chen); 7, Carlos Capetillo (Ike); 8, Isaac Palomino (Su).
220 — Championship: Jace Malek (WVS) tf. Spencer Pedroni (Fife), 18-2. Placers: 3, Anthony Ruiz (Oth); 4, Sam Heidt (WVY); 5, Isaac Garcia (Eph); 6, Alex Diaz (Z); 7, Dylan Koch (WVY-NS); 8, Oscar Martinez (EVY).
285 — Championship: Monike Sarte (Fife) d. Rickey Miller (WVS), 5-2. Placers: 3, Bubba Ruiz (Oth); 4, Robert Luna (Topp); 5, Dallon Grinder (Han); 6, Gavin Brumley (NV); 7, Reggie Chumley (Z); 8, Maric Taylor (Kla).