The numbers are sparse in the Kennewick High wrestling room, but coach Dwane Sittler still has a couple of aces up his sleeve.
Brothers Alex and Emilio Ramos are two of the top-ranked wrestlers in the their weight classes, and both are looking for a return trip to state.
Their quest begins Saturday at the Mid-Columbia Conference 3A district tournament at Southridge High School. Action gets under way at 10 a.m., with finals expected to start around 2 p.m.
The Ramos brothers will have to be at their best, as only the top two wrestlers in each weight class advance to next weekend’s regional tournament in Everett.
“This is my last year,” said Alex, who is a senior. “I have to give it my all.”
Alex (27-9) is ranked second in the 3A at 145 pounds by Washington Wrestling Report, while junior brother Emilio (28-4) is tops at 152, a spot he has held for several weeks.
“There is no pressure,” Emilio said of his ranking. “I have to go out every match and prove that I am worthy of No. 1. I have to make sure I am at my best every match.”
The Ramos brothers have been wrestling since before they went to school. Their dad, David, ran a kids program in Prosser and in the Tri-Cities. Even though they also play football, wrestling is first in their hearts.
“They definitely bring the culture of wrestling,” Sittler said. “A lot of the kids look to them for guidance — how to warm up and how to diet correctly. They rub off on the kids. They know more technique than anyone in the room. They can be beat on certain days, and other days look like a million bucks. They create a great atmosphere in our room.”
Though the Lions’ wrestling team is small, Emilio said he and Alex have tried to help everyone become better.
“It’s hard because we don’t have a lot of guys, but we work with who we have,” Emilio said. “We wrestle with everyone to make sure we all are getting better.”
The Ramoses also have earned respect throughout the Mid-Columbia Conference.
“Those Ramos boys are tough,” Southridge coach Steve Isley said. “They are two of the best kids in the Tri-Cities. Any coach would love to have both of them. They are both super tough.”
There’s no secret to success for the brothers. They put in the work. They attend two or three camps in the summer, and after practice — or on snow days — they will head to the gym for more cardio and a little weightlifting.
All of their hard work leads to this weekend.
“I get a little nervous every once in a while, but once I get going, I’m fine,” said Emilio, who has placed sixth at state the past two years. “We have been doing this for so long that not much makes us nervous.”
Alex, who made it state last year but didn’t place, said it’s the little things that make the difference once you get on the mat.
“All of my losses are to good kids,” he said. “I just made little mistakes. This is a tough sport. A lot of people don’t realize how tough this is. You practice every day, you have to watch what you eat. I miss food.”
At district, Liam Walker of Kamiakin will be Alex’s biggest obstacle in trying to win a title.
“I’m ready,” Alex said. “I’m prepared.”
4A DISTRICTS: The action gets under way at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hanford High School. Finals are expected to start around 4 p.m.
The top four placers from district in each weight class advance to the regional tournament Feb. 11 at Richland High School, along with the Greater Spokane League and the Greater St. Helens League.