EPHRATA — Isaiah Perez walked to the scorer’s table with all the confidence of a defending state champion, no swag, just fact.
The night had come down to a winner-take-all in the 285-pound bout and the No. 1 ranked heavyweight in all classifications methodically dissected Ephrata’s Elias Guevara with a pin at 1:19 in the final match of the night and Othello chased down Ephrata to win Thursday’s CWAC dual 40-36 at Ephrata.
Toppenish might sit on top of the Central Washington Athletic Conference standings as the No. 2 ranked 2A program in the Washington Wrestling Report, but the No. 5 Tigers and No. 11 Huskies put on a show in front of a near capacity crowd to open the New Year.
Ephrata erased an opening match forfeit, reeling off five consecutive pins in an impressive showcase of talent at the top of the lineup, including No. 2 ranked Sammy Flores (113) and No. 2 ranked 120-pounder Clay Johns, who wrestled up a weight at 126.
But the question was, would their 24-12 lead be enough with the strength of the Huskies lineup coming up?
“I thought we picked our spots. Though the middle we needed to score some points and stay off our backs,” Tigers coach PJ Anderson said. “We come into these matches expecting to win. We knew (Elijah) Roylance was tough at 220 and know about Perez at heavy, so we had to build our lead by 145.”
The real turning point wasn’t the Roylance at 220, but the Roylance at 170. Easton Roylance weathered the early storm, then pinned Alan Maceda at 4:09 to win the 170-pound match and close the gap to 30-27. Ephrata (3-2, 2-2 CWAC) was still clinging to a 30-22 lead before the pivotal stage in the night.
“I was pretty concerned, because I knew if I didn’t win my match we didn’t have a chance to win,” Roylance said. “I was nervous going out. (Maceda) was wrestling really strong early, but then he started getting tired.
“I think by taking him into the third period gave me the advantage and I was able to work on my moves.”
The pin at 170 narrowed the gap to 30-27 after Othello (3-1, 3-1 CWAC) was penalized a team point. BJ Garza Jr. won by decision against Carter Mills in the 182-pound match and it was all tied up 30-30 three to go.
After all the pins and hard work in the middle, it came down to the bottom half of the lineup where the Huskies rock.
“They put us on alert with all the points right away. But I think it just encourages us at the heavier weights to be ready,” Garza Jr. said. “Easton gave us the pin in the match before mine and I was able get my guy.”
Elijah Roylance won by major decision and Perez cleaned it up with yet another pin in the tale of two halves.