YAKIMA, Wash. -- Rafael Suarez was convinced by a good friend to give wrestling a try last season. It worked out well for the friendship and it created a nice athletic compliment to his football season.

But the big beneficiary was the Eisenhower wrestling room.

Suarez was a district placer in his debut as a junior, and now he’s part of a senior group that has sparked the Cadets to a 2-0 start in the young Columbia Basin Big Nine season.

Powered by five pins and a technical fall, Eisenhower pulled away for a 45-26 victory over Eastmont on Thursday, less than a week after traveling to Wenatchee for a resounding 49-21 conference-opening win.

“We’re doing well in our duals because we’re working hard in practice and we’re competitive,” said Suarez, who registered a first-period fall at 195 pounds. “My friend Carlos Capetillo talked me into this last year and I’m glad he did. It’s been fun.”

As was Thursday’s win in front of the home crowd.

After back-to-back pins by Raul Jimenez and Suarez, the Cadets used a run of five straight wins to build a 24-3 lead. But the Wildcats countered with their own surge, stringing together three pins and technical fall to pull within 30-26 with three matches left.

Eisenhower’s response didn’t take long.

Junior Gilbert Bautista took the mat in the 126 match and promptly pinned his opponent in 41 seconds. Julian Alonso, a regional placer last season, followed with an 8-2 decision and Nathaniel Rodriguez capped the night with a 42-second fall as the Cadets finished with a flourish.

“Depth is the strength of this team and it showed tonight,” said Ike coach Albert Cardenas, who has a total of 72 wrestlers, boys and girls, out this season. “It’s nice in the new school because we have our own wrestling room — it’s home for us.”

Last week’s victory at Wenatchee represented a 45-point swing from a year ago, turning a 45-28 setback into a 49-21 win. Last season Ike clipped Eastmont by a point, and Tuesday it was a 19-point win.

“We had a lot of sophomores last season. We we’re pretty young,” Cardenas noted. “Now we’ve got older kids and we’ve got some depth. That can make all the difference in a dual meet.”

Eisenhower is a fairly stout tournament team as well after placing third at the 18-team Bob Mars Invitational in Kennewick last Saturday. Alonso and Suarez, a second-team CBBN linebacker in football, both had second-place finishes at Mars.

The Cadets resume CBBN competition next Thursday hosting West Valley and two days later they host the second Eisenhower Mat Classic.



At Eisenhower

145: Oscar Toledo (Ea) d. Emilio Torres, 8-6 (OT). 152: Isaiah Calloway (Ike) tf. Cesar Mendoza, 15-0. 160: Francisco Narez (Ike) d. Christian Flores, 9-4. 170: Juan Rivera (Ike) md. Isaiah Johnston, 13-4. 182: Raul Jimenez (Ike) p. Brett Womack, 1:58. 195: Rafael Suarez (Ike) p. Garrett Binner, 1:31. 220: Jacob Martinez (Ea) p. Chance Ward, :56. 285: Matias Vargas (Ike) p. Dan Alderson, 3:07. 106: Jesus Salamanca (Ea) p. Isaac Sartain, 5:30. 113: Louis Arellano (Ea) tf. Jorge Valencia, 18-2. 120: Cesar Sitio (Ea) p. Erick Chavez, 3:11. 126: Gilbert Bautista (Ike) p. Landon McClune, :41. 132: Julian Alonso (Ike) d. Thomas Jones, 8-2. 138: Nathaniel Rodriguez (Ike) p. Austin Biondi, :42.