While fall high school sports kicked off this week with official practices, it’s interesting to note what some of the Tri-Cities’ wrestlers pulled off this summer.
Three teens placed well in their divisions at the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet and Junior National Championships, held in the middle of July in Fargo, N.D.
The top-ranked one was Chiawana sophomore Isaiah Anderson, who blitzed through his competition at 195 pounds in the 16U Greco-Roman portion of the tournament. He lost 10-0 to Seth Shumate of Ohio in the final.
Meanwhile, in the Junior Women tournament, Washington’s young women took the team title, snapping California’s nine-year title streak.
Hanford High wrestling coach Dom Duncan was an assistant for the Washington team.
“We had 43 juniors and 34 cadets in the tournament,” Duncan said. “Our cadets finished fourth as a team.”
Known across the U.S.
Duncan said Washington’s girls wrestling program is gaining national attention.
“Our women’s wrestling program is on the forefront,” Duncan said. “We’ve finished among the top five the last couple years. All of the credit goes to the kids. They put in the work. And the women’s director put together a good group of coaches.”
That director is Tony Nunez, with the the Washington State Wrestling Association.
Nunez said this was his first full year as director from start to finish, and it took some time for people to trust his process.
“I’m not a politician,” said Nunez, who is also a volunteer wrestling coach at Toppenish High. “I had to be meek and humble to get the other coaches to trust in my process. I am also honestly brutally honest. But once everyone started seeing the progress, I started getting their trust.”
Things went so well in Fargo that Nunez was named the Women’s Developmental Coach of the Year by USA Wrestling.
“We won a national title,” Nunez said. “The kids are awesome. Our goal was to get as many of these girls into the All-American rounds of the tournament.”
That, and trying to move as many of them as possible to the collegiate levels. Nunez does that by reaching out to college coaches — and that job is made easier when Washington wins the team title.
“Washington wrestling, right now, is a force that is not going away soon,” said Nunez.
Meanwhile, on the boys side, Isaiah Anderson wasn’t the only Chiawana wrestler who did well at nationals.
Robby Vaughn placed fifth at 138 pounds in the Junior Greco Roman tournament, while teammate Darrion Johnson finished in the top 12 of the 138-pound division of the 16U Greco-Roman tournament.
“To have two guys go All-American is a pretty cool deal,” said Jack Anderson, the head Chiawana wrestling coach and the father of Isaiah. “This tournament is the real deal. It’s set up for future Olympians. In the wrestling world, this is as good as it gets.”
Jack Anderson explained the difference in the wrestling styles.
“Freestyle is what high schoolers wrestle,” he said. “Greco-Roman is all upper body. You can’t touch the legs.”
Chiawana is coming off of a Class 4A state team title back in March. But the Riverhawks are not resting on those laurels.
“The offseason (summer) is very busy. It’s crazy. But these guys are so good. It’s the least amount of work I’ve had to do,” said Jack Anderson. “We’ve sent 34 kids to camp. All of these kids took a week off after the state tournament, and then got back on it.”
Any more, that’s normal.
“Kids are training year around,” said Jack Anderson. “We’re producing national-level wrestlers. I’ve met with a few college coaches, and Washington right now is considered a hidden gem. College coaches are starting to recruit here more.”
Richland High grad to the Padres
Getting a call-up to a Major League Baseball team for the first time: It’s something a baseball player will always remember.
That happened to reliever Eric Yardley on Wednesday, when the San Diego Padres notified the Richland High School graduate they needed him.
Yardley left Triple-A El Paso — where he had a respectable 2.63 earned run average in the Pacific Coast League — and met the Padres in Cincinnati on Wednesday.
He got right into the game, which the Reds won 4-2.
Yardley, who turned 29 on Sunday, actually was saddled with the loss. He pitched one-third of an inning, giving up two hits, three runs (although just one was earned), and a walk.
It was a bullpen day for the Padres, in which a team goes through a game without using one of their starting pitchers.
Regardless, it was a great day for Yardley, who after graduating from Seattle University in 2013, signed with the independent Pecos League.
It wasn’t long after in that league that San Diego signed him as a free agent.
Yardley has toiled for seven seasons in the minors before getting that long-awaited call.
“It’s everything I ever could imagine it to be,” Yardley told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “It was a long journey. I can’t really put it into words.”
8 Tri-Cities kids named to all-state baseball
The Washington State Baseball Coaches Association finally put out their all-state teams this week.
The Tri-Cities had eight players on the teams.
In a clerical error, the WSBCA put Chiawana’s Riley Cissne and Richland’s Taylor Johnson on the 3A team.
The other players on the 3A team included Kamiakin’s Gavin Ayers and Trystan Vrieling; Kennewick’s Tim Gee; and Nick Grade, Wesley Hickman and Jack Sanders from Southridge.
▪ The Idaho Falls Bandits, who eliminated the Kennewick Outlaws a few weeks ago on the final day of the Northwest Regional AAA American Legion tournament, won the American Legion World Series title on Wednesday in Shelby, N.C.
The Bandits defeated Fargo, N.D., 4-2 in the title game.
Derek Berg of the Pacific Northwest Golf Academy in Issaquah won the Northwest Open Invitational on Wednesday at Wine Valley Golf Club.
Berg fired a three-round, 10-under-par total of 206 for the victory.
Wine Valley’s own Brady Sharp finished tied for second at 209, while Mike Kasch of Pasco Golfland tied for eighth at 212.
Kamiakin cross country
Looks like the Kamiakin boys cross country team is reloading for the 2019 season.
The two-time defending state champions are ranked No. 2 in the Northwest preseason poll put out this week by Dyestat.com.
Matt Rexus’ squad is deep again, and will be led by senior Stanford Smith and sophomore Issac Teeples.
The top-ranked team is Jesuit of Portland.