The last time Southridge High School had an individual state wrestling champion, Zayid Al-Ghani hadn’t been born yet.
After Saturday, all that has changed.
Al-Ghani beat Keith Pablo of Marysville-Pilchuck 5-2 in the Class 3A 170-pound championship match at Mat Classic to put his name next to Eric Schwartz’s (101-pound title in 1997) on the championship wall.
“It’s amazing in 20 years that no else had (won a tilte),” Al-Ghani said. “Twenty years from now, people can look on the wall and see my name. My junior year I got upset and finished fifth. This year, I took practice day by day and worked my way to this point.”
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The Tri-Cities finished with two state champions, with Pasco freshman Isaiah Gonzalez winning the 3A title at 113.
Al-Ghani (37-4), who beat Pablo 8-4 for the regional title last week, held a 2-1 lead after the second round.
He scored an escape 17 seconds into the third, then got a takedown at 1:07 for a 5-1 advantage. Pablo got an escape with 28 second remaining, but couldn’t take Al-Ghani down.
“The whole match, I never thought I had an edge,” Al-Ghani said. “I never even looked at the score until the very end. I just wrestled my match.”
And while winning state gold is pretty sweet, Al-Ghani is looking for something he can sink his teeth into.
“Maybe chocolate cake,” he said.
In addition to Al-Ghani’s title, the Suns got a fourth-place finish from Mark Meier (160), a seventh-place finish from Derrick Gillespie (145), and eighth-place finishes from Xavier Velasco (126) and Ryan Nett (138).
The Kamiakin Braves didn’t finish with any individual champions Saturday, but they were in the thick of things in the 3A team race all weekend and finished third behind Bonney Lake and Kelso — the second best finish in school history.
“Six years ago, if you told me I’d be bringing 13 to state, I would not have believed you,” Braves coach Jordan Anderson said. “The senior class has a done an awesome job.”
Kamiakin had Austin Almaguer (120) and Sione Halo (160) place third, while Zach Borisch (182) was fourth.
The Braves got fifth-place finishes from Joey Chavez (132), Rece Quintana (138), Liam Walker (145) and Luke Eskelsen (195).
Tanner Bushman (113) and Jesus Ramos (126) were seventh, and Cyle DeLeon was eighth.
“All 13 had their sights set on a state title,” Anderson said. “Once they lost, then they went to get the next best thing. Everyone has done well. It’s been a good showing by the Tri-Cities.”
Rounding out the 3A division, Kennewick’s Emilio Ramos finished fifth at 152.
Gonzalez was tough to beat, tearing through his first state wrestling tournament and outscoring his opponents 24-0.
Gonzalez used an escape in the second round against Tahoma’s Austin Michaelski for the only point he needed in a 1-0 victory.
“I knew he was going to put up a fight,” said Gonzalez, who beat Ryan Wheeler of Curtis 6-0 in the semifinals. “I gave it my all. I pushed the pace. I wanted it more.”
Gonzalez said he and Michalski have known each other for years, but this was the first time they have wrestled against each other in high school.
Gonzalez finished the season 33-3. Prior to state, he pinned every opponent at district and regionals while giving up just two points.
“I have always expected a lot of myself,” Gonzalez said. “This helps set me up for more opportunities in the future.”
Also placing for Pasco was Avery Burrows (170), who took home an eighth-place medal.
Chiawana freshman Robby Vaughn, who knocked off top-ranked Maka Yacapin of Curtis 5-3 in the quarterfinals, and Chase Randall of Mead 7-2 in the semifinals, saw his win streak at state come to an end in the 4A 106-pound championship bout.
Vaughn lost a 2-0 match to Chase Tebbets of Mead, who finished second last year.
Vaughn looked to tie the match in the waning seconds, rolling Tebbets and turning him, but Tebbets still had control of Vaughn’s leg as time ran out.
“I fought hard,” Vaughn said. “I just have to work harder.”
But Vaughn did take something positive away from the weekend.
“I wrestled better than I have all season,” he said.”
The Riverhawks, who finished sixth in the team standings, also got third-place showings from Nate Bengen (126) and Clayton Silvers (195), while Rey Aranda (132) was sixth, Tyson Stover (138) was seventh, and Riley Cissne (145) and Josh Alvarez (285) eighth.
“I’m proud of all of our guys,” Chiawana coach Jack Anderson said. “The Tri-Cities as a whole has done really well.”
Sunnyside also picked up a 4A state title as junior Josiah Rodriguez beat John Sowers of Davis 5-1 at 132 pounds.
Rodriguez, who had a huge support group at the Tacoma Dome, led 5-0 after the first round, then held Sowers at bay the rest of the match.
“I feel amazing,” Rodriguez said. “My dad (Steve) has been training me since I was 4. I just told my dad I’m going to have fun and wrestle.”
Turnabout was fair play for Rodriguez, who lost to Sowers at district and finished third.
“I just told myself to go all out,” Rodriguez said.
Adding to the Grizzlies’ haul were Elias Romero, who was second at 120, and Jose Campos (120) who finished eighth.
The Othello Huskies have had at least one state champion since 2008, and the tradition continued Saturday when Reese Jones (36-4) won the Class 2A 170-pound title with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Ryan Redford of White River.
“This is really exciting,” said Jones, who was second last year at 160. “He was pretty aggressive — I don’t know if I was ready for that. He was leading 2-1 and I got a takedown with 4 seconds left. No more wrestling for me, it’s too stressful.”
The tears of joy kept flowing in the Othello camp as senior TJ Martinez, in his first trip to the Dome, won the 195-pound title in dramatic fashion.
Trailing 2-1, Martinez maneuvered a reversal and then controlled Brody Weinheimer of Lynden the last 30 seconds of the match for the 3-2 win.
“This is something I had set out to do since I was 3 years old,” Martinez said. “This is a big thing. I played soccer and my dad (Loly) wanted me to do a more manly sport, so I started wrestling. I knew from watching him (Weinheimer) that this would be a good match. He was bigger and stronger, but I had heart. Winning a state title was the only way I was leaving the Tacoma Dome.”
The Huskies also got a fifth-place finish from Collin Freeman (152), a sixth from DJ Guzman (195) and a seventh from Isaiah Perez (220).
Othello’s Nikki Velazquez placed second at 130 pounds, dropping the title match 13-6 to Erin Redford of White River. Emily Mendez (105) and Iyalhye Barraza (115) were sixth for the Huskies, while Elizabeth Giles (135) was fourth and Kaylee Martinez (140) was fifth.
Kiona-Benton’s Jaron Gunter had high hopes of finally getting past Trent Baun, but the Colville sophomore came out on top 7-3 in the 1A 120-pound title match.
“I’m happy with the outcome,” Gunter said. “I lost to a great wrestler. I haven’t beaten him yet. Give them (Trent and TJ Baun, who won the 132-pound title) props, they are good wrestlers.
Gunter finished the season 35-2 and his career at Ki-Be with a 119-23 record.
Also for the Bears, Flavio Sandoval was (138) was third and Angel Del Angel (113) was fifth.
Royal’s Abraham Medina finished second at 126, while Eduardo Rodriguez (120) was fourth and Carlos Quintero (182) eighth.
Warden got third-place finishes from Anthony Martinez (113) and Rodrigo Ozuna (132), a seventh from Bryce Martinez (126) and sixth from Tyrone Mendez (170).
Hanford’s Libby Graham (145) finished eighth, while Pasco’s Natalie Hall (155) was sixth, and Kiona-Benton’s Elsa Gonzalez (140) seventh.
Note: The 1A 285-pound matches were not reported by deadline. Connell’s Alexander Deines was wrestling for the championship and Kiona-Benton’s Anthony Llernas for third.