When the brackets for Saturday's Class 4A District 5 wrestling tournament were released over the weekend, a couple things stood out.
There were the usual late-season drops in weight class --Chiawana senior and two-time state placer Chris Montelongo dipping down to 113 pounds, teammate Pedro Murillo and unbeaten Pasco sophomore Timmy Martinez at 120, Pasco senior Brandon Gonzalez to 126 and Chiawana senior Clayton Smith to 145 all stand out.
Also, that 120-pound class looks like a monster with Martinez, Murillo, Richland senior Alex Webb and Walla Walla junior Noe Gonzalez, and Oregon 2A state champion for Culver last year.
"It's the toughest one in the district," said Chiawana coach Jack Anderson, whose Riverhawks will be vying for a second straight district title when they hit the mats in Walla Walla. "One-twenty is exciting. ... We've got a scrappy freshman as our No. 2 (Corey Salinas). That's a tough weight class to come in at."
Actually, Chiawana has the best chance to double up at some weights -- Montelongo and Bryce Buckley seeded 1-2 at 113, Laiten Schroeder and Joel Murillo 1-3 at 132, Clayton Smith and Masen Brown 1-3 at 145 and Martin Villanueva and Antonio Cruz 1-3 at 285.
"We've got a tough group of No. 2 guys who are doing very well," Anderson said. "We've been sending them to varsity tournaments, and a lot of those guys got seeded. We feel pretty good about that."
Something else that looms over this tournament is that only the top two seeds automatically advance to regionals the following weekend in Spokane. The third seed will wrestle a pigtail match the Greater Spokane League No. 3, while the CBBN has three automatic berths. The top four from regionals advance to state.
Because so much is on the line between finishing second and third at district, the loser of the championship match will wrestle the winner of the third-fourth match to determine a true No. 2. However, if the loser of the championship already has beaten the third-place wrestler, he automatically is the second seed.
"It's a good thing," said Richland coach Scott Surplus, noting that it can correct any seeding mistakes. However, he added, it can be tough on the championship loser.
"If one and two really go at it (in the final), two can really let down."
While the 4As are hitting the mats in Walla Walla, the Mid-Columbia Conference's 3A teams will be at University High in Spokane taking on the GSL and Sunnyside in a sub-regional Friday and Saturday.
The top five advance to regionals the following weekend in Sunnyside against the Wesco. The No. 6 seed will wrestle the Wesco No. 3 in a pigtail.
The seeds for the MCC schools and Sunnyside were released over the weekend and also have a few eye-catchers, most of them from the Kamiakin camp.
Perhaps no one has garnered more interest around the state than Braves senior Sisto Santana Pina, who dropped back down to 170 -- where he won his state title last year -- and blew up the message boards at Washington Wrestling Report's website.
Teammates Cesar Castillo (113) and Harley Kolp (132), a two-time state placer, also dropped down a weight, as did Southridge sophomore Luke Davidson, a 220-pounder wrestling at 285 all year.
Kamiakin coach Jordan Anderson said the team has its eye on a top-five finish at state, a bold goal considering the Braves' won just one MCC dual this season. Additionally, the Braves are missing their third state veteran, 132-pounder Jr. Pina, who suffered a devastating wrist injury two weeks ago in Post Falls.
"It was horrible," Anderson said. "He was having a great season."
The MCC teams will need to wrestle great to challenge Sunnyside and University for the sub-regional and regional crowns over the next two weeks. The Grizzlies have half of the top seeds from the area and four more No. 2s.