Mid-Columbia wrestlers shine at Mat Classic (w/ gallery)

By Kevin Anthony, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 19, 2012 

TACOMA -- Sisto Santana Pina has held a variety of wrestling titles over the years.

District champion, regional champions -- both a couple times over. Even state champion in various age groups -- a triple-crown winner.

Now, he can add another title: Mat Classic state champion.

The Kamiakin junior cemented a terrific run at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday night with a second-period pin of Decatur's Rowland Gaydosh to claim the 3A 170-pound state title.

"It feels awesome," said Pina. "It hasn't hit all the way yet. I'm glad I accomplished my goal that I set early this year."

It was a highlight moment for the Mid-Columbia in the 3A and 4A brackets and one of two finals matches involving the Tri-Cities.

Pasco senior Deondre Sparks finished second at 138 pounds, getting thrown for a pin while carrying a 3-0 lead against returning Enumclaw state champion Lucas Somera.

Sunnyside sophomore Jesse Barajas provided another second-place finish, getting pinned in the third period by Yelm freshman Darren Harris.

And Moses Lake senior Nico Moreno finally got his state title after placing second the last two years, handling Mead's Tyler McLean 6-3 at 152.

Pina, who placed third at state last year as a sophomore and is a three-time state vet, had a definite plan all weekend long.

"The biggest thing was to be active on my feet," he said. "I'm smaller than those guys, but I'm a lot quicker."

That was the case in the final, but it was his work on the mat that paid off.

It was still scoreless when Gaydosh chose to start the second period down. Pina attacked from varying angles and kept the Decatur junior from even nearing an escape. Instead, he found a small opening to slip an arm around Gaydosh's neck, then levered him over almost bent in two with his shoulders flat.

It turned out to be the only pin Pina recorded in four matches, but by no means was he struggling in any of his previous matches.

"That's the best I've seen him wrestle," said Kamiakin coach Jordan Anderson, a first-year coach who just six years ago was finishing back-to-back third-place showings for the Braves. "He was not just winning matches, he was dominating. He never was in trouble. He dominated this tournament."

Sparks wasn't dominating, but he was giving the returning state champ a tough go in their 138 final.

Somera tried to keep the long-armed Pasco wrestler tied up from the get-go to nullify his reach, so Sparks instead tripped him to the mat.

Sparks escaped to start the second for a 3-0, but he let Somera get inside a little too much, and suddenly he was whipping through the air in a classic throw that landed him flat on his back.

The official awarded the pin at 3:14, a call with which Pasco coach Jay Covington vehemently disagreed.

"That was a crap call," Covington said. "His shoulder was off the mat."

The unfortunate finish doesn't take any shine off a great tournament for Sparks, who made his first state medal a good one.

Both Kamiakin and Pasco finished with two placers. Junior Harley Kolp earned his second state medal for the Braves, finishing eighth at 132. Bulldogs freshman Timmy Martinez placed seventh at 120.

Hanford got medals from Joe Traverso (seventh at 170), and Ben Tynan and Casey Enderlin at 182.

Tynan and Enderlin, both seniors like Traverso, wrestled each other for fifth and sixth place. Tynan got a takedown in the first period, then pushed the action in the second and finished with a 9-2 win over his teammate.

"It feels great," Tynan said. "We worked pretty hard for this."

Falcons coach Dom Duncan noted that the three seniors combined to go 1-6 in the district tournament as freshmen.

"Those kids set the tone for others to follow," Duncan said, "and they're evidence that working hard can get to the state tournament."

Southridge's Connor Rosane had his hand raised after his final high school match, placing fifth at 160 pounds.

"I didn't want to end my high school career with a loss," he said. "A couple of weeks ago I said that anything less than first was a disappointment, but I got my name on the wall (of the Suns' wrestling room as a state placer). It's not easy. That's a hard goal."

Junior teammate Kevin Del-Angel was forced to settle for sixth at 182 after injuring his shoulder in an earlier match. It was the second trip to state for both Suns wrestlers and their first medals.

Sunnyside had four more placers join Barajas, including senior Nathan Gonzalez, who finished his fourth trip to state with his third medal after taking fourth at 126.

Chiawana finished with four state placers in the 4A brackets: junior Chris Montelongo was seventh at 106 to earn his second state medal; senior Mark McKeown eighth at 126, junior Austen Silvers seventh at 170 and senior C.J. Edrington seventh at 192.

"I'm proud of the guys," said Chiawana coach Jack Anderson, whose third-year program set school highs in placers and participants (six). "They worked hard all season, and to end up with four state placers is pretty good. I'm proud of the effort they put forth all season and this weekend."

Richland senior Josh Andrew also secured a second state medal, finishing seventh at 120.

Moses Lake had two placers in addition to Moreno: sophomore Fernando Leyva was fifth at 106, and junior Beau Gleed was third at 120.

Enumclaw claimed the 3A team title, its second straight and fourth in five seasons. Tahoma won the 4A crown, finishing 38.5 points ahead of favorite Mead.

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