RICHLAND — Cynics might regard the CBBN 3A district wrestling tournament as little more than seeding for next week's regional, with very little do-or-die action as six wrestlers in each weight advance from a field of eight schools.
But the soft landing secured by all those regional berths didn't take away from the hard-fought finals sorted out Saturday night at Hanford High School.
It didn't stop twin brothers going all out against each other in a reenactment of so many back-yard brawls. It didn't take away the sweet taste of revenge another wrestler had been craving all season, nor the thrill of winning the rubber match in a season-long rivalry between two state-ranked opponents.
"I must say this is the toughest district, the toughest region by far," declared Hanford 170-pounder Joe Traverso after his 4-1 win over Southridge's Kevin Del-Angel in the finals, the third time they have met this season. "It's unmatched in the state. This tournament's like a regional."
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Sunnyside was unmatched this weekend, piling up 351 1/2 points to run away with the team title by 85 1/2 points over second-place Pasco.
The Grizzlies advanced 17 wrestlers to next Saturday's regional at University High in Spokane. The top five at each weight have an automatic berth while the sixth placer wrestles a pigtail with the No. 3 seed from the Greater Spokane League.
Among all those regional entries, Sunnyside will be bringing five champions and seven finalists. The Grizzlies won three of the first four weights -- including Nathan Gonzalez's 5-0 decision over teammate Christian Ruiz at 126 -- and two of the last three.
Pasco and Hanford each advanced 13 wrestlers, though the Bulldogs will have eight seeded first or second at regionals compared to three for the Falcons.
Pasco got titles from Timmy Martinez at 120, Gilbert Mendoza at 132, Deondre Sparks at 138 and Anthony McKittrick at 152.
Mendoza's title came at the expense of his twin brother, Robert, and it came on a cradle he threw seemingly out of nowhere -- perhaps the only way to get the drop on his sibling.
"No secrets," said Gilbert, who was trailing 4-3 with about a minute left in the third period before turning the tables. "We know all the moves that we do, we know all that stuff."
Gilbert added that the family is used to these battles -- he also edged his brother 2-1 in the finals of the Kelso tournament earlier this year.
"It's like watching us in the front yard," Gilbert said. "They just sit back, stay silent and watch us tear each other up. It's just like the front yard."
Hanford's two titles came from Traverso and at 182 from Casey Enderlin, who got a big four-point exchange early in his final and held on 6-2.
For Traverso, his final was about getting the one seed to regionals and getting one up on his Southridge rival. Del-Angel pinned Traverso during the regular season, about two weeks removed from an earlier 5-0 loss to the Hanford wrestler.
Both wrestlers had to knock off higher seeds in the semifinals. Del-Angel pinned top seed Darren Hardgrove of Eastmont, whom he lost to 3-2 last week, and Traverso won 5-3 over Kamiakin's Sisto Santana Pina, who placed third at state last season.
In the final, Traverso carried a 2-0 lead into the third period, then took advantage of an opening as Del-Angel was trying to escape. He picked the Southridge wrestler up and put him straight to his back for a critical two-point nearfall with 30 seconds left.
"It felt good getting him on his back for once," Traverso said. "I'd never done that before."
But few finals could equal the drama of Southridge's Connor Rosane and Pasco's Lonnie Hurley in a matchup of highly ranked state vets at 160.
Hurley, who beat Rosane 5-1 in the second week of the season, used his lightning quickness to shoot in for a pair of double-leg takedowns in the first and second periods, and carried a 4-3 edge into the third.
"He's the fastest kid I've ever seen," Rosane said. "That first shot I did not see coming."
But after missing a couple of earlier opportunities, Rosane finally found an angle he liked and slung Hurley to the mat for takedown of his own to knot the score at 5-all. With 1:17 left on the clock, Rosane didn't expect to ride his way into overtime.
"It felt like I had my timing down, definitely. I let him up with 30, 40 seconds to go," Rosane said. "He was giving me a hard time down, so I figured I better let him up and see what happens."
What happened was after giving up the escape and going down by a point, Rosane shot in for a single and leveraged Hurley back to the mat with 20 seconds remaining for a 7-6 win.
Southridge also got a title in the night's final match. Matt Gibson hit a thunderous head-and-arm for a five-point lead to start the 285 bout, survived a series of reversals and scrambled off his own back in the second period on his way to a 10-7 win over West Valley's Colton Gurney.
Southridge and Kennewick each advanced nine wrestlers to regionals, the Lions getting a pair of runner-up finishes from Michael Hosfield at 120 and Brock Schuh at 152. Kamiakin is sending six to regionals but didn't get any into this weekend's finals.
Team scores--Sunnyside 3511/2, Pasco 266, Hanford 2131/2, Southridge 166, West Valley 149, Eastmont 1401/2, Kennewick 1281/2, Kamiakin 88.
Championship matches and top six local
106--Jesse Barajas (SS) p. Fabian Wickham (Emt) 6:46; 3, Homer Romero (SS); 4, Shane Breitenfeldt (Han); 5, Tyler Almaguer (Kam); 6, Blake Llarenas (Han). 113--Santos Guerrero (SS) d. Dalton McDonald (Pas) 7-0; 3, Trenton Nett (SR); 5, Cesar Castillo (Kam); 6, Jesse Torres (SS). 120--Timmy Martinez (Pas) m.d. Michael Hosfield (Ken) 8-0; 3, Anthony Chavez (SS); 4, Junior Pina (Kam); 5, Justin Gonzales (Pas). 126--Nathan Gonzalez (SS) d. Christian Ruiz (SS) 5-0; 3, Xavier Tobias (Pas); 4, Hugo Mabry (Pas); 5, Ben Hoffner (Han). 132--Gilbert Mendoza (Pas) p. Robert Mendoza (Pas) 5:20; 3, Isaac Guerrero (SS); 4, Harley Kolp (Kam); 5, Ty Smith (Ken); 6, Michael Parkman (Han). 138--Deondre Sparks (Pas) inj. def. Isidro Ramirez (SS); 3, Phoenix Virgen (Pas); 5, Adrian Barajas (Kam); 6, Tevin Lincoln (Ken). 145--Preston Baich (WV) d. Jackson Fromm (Pas) 8-2; 4, David Vidales (SS); 5, Omar Cantu (SS); 6, Brennan Rains (Han). 152--Anthony McKittrick (Pas) d. Brock Schuh (Ken) 7-1; 3, Seth Gifford (Han); 4, Ramon Hernandez (SS); 5, Nathan Ottley (Ken); 6, Kory Miller (SR). 160--Connor Rosane (SR) d. Lonnie Hurley (Pas) 7-6; 3, Sam Romero (SS); 4, Jeff Anheier (Han). 170--Joe Traverso (Han) d. Kevin Del-Angel (SR) 4-1; 3, Sisto Santana Pina (Kam); 5, Drew Hansen (Han); 6, Christian Gill (Ken). 182--Casey Enderlin (Han) d. Kyle Hoffman (Emt) 6-2; 3, Ben Tynan (Han); 4, Bryce Overholt (SR); 5, Daniel Avalos (SS); 6, Rudy Jimenez (Pas). 195--Miguel Guzman (SS) m.d. Will Bishop (Han) 13-5; 3, Josue Pinedo (SS); 4, Todd Pink (Ken); 5, Luke Davidson (SR); 6, Randy Harris (SR). 220--Austin Carmen (SS) m.d. Robert Koch (WV) 14-5; 3, Julio Aleman (SR). 285--Matt Gibson (SR) d. Colton Gurney (WV) 10-7; 3, Jeff Weyand (Han); 5, Robby Calvert (Ken); 6, Gerardo Rodriguez (Ken).