OTHELLO — PJ Taggares Gym has that same small, enclosed feel where the fan base sits right on top of the mat like Christianson Gym over at North Idaho College where they wrestle the Tri-State.
Despite it being a non-league dual between two storied wrestling programs, the capacity crowd was electric and the action under the dome met the expectations of both Moses Lake and Othello wrestling fans.
The Huskies got three straight pins with Elijah Roylance (220), Isaiah Perez (275) and Josiah Barrera (106) to blow open a close match, giving Othello coach Rudy Ochoa II his first victory Moses Lake in his five-year tenure.
“Getting three straight pins like that put the crowd in it, but I'd say Josiah's pin was a turning point,” Ochoa II said. “He cut for us to make 106 and stepped up for the team.
“Anytime you can go this close with a program like Moses Lake, you're proud. With us coming up with the win today, I hope will carry us when we get back to the 2A schedule.”
There's a sense of mutual respect that goes all the way back to when Wayne Schutte ran the Huskies program. It was a good matchup between Columbia Basin powerhouses. That's the beauty of wrestling, one circle, two contestants, one winner.
“We knew were going to have to win at 113, 120, 126, 132 because that's where the heart of our lineup is,” Moses Lake coach Jaime Garza said. “We went out there and gave it all we had, unfortunately we lost some close matches.”
Moses Lake closed to 15-12 with Everett Ashley's pin, but the strength of the Othello lineup flexed its muscle when Elijah Roylance pinned Thomas Molitor in the 220-pound match and Gut Check champion Isaiah Perez, who was named WIAA Athlete of the Week, turned Sebastian Rodriguez at 285. Josiah Barrera (106) made it three in a row and the Huskies jumped it up to 33-18 with the Chiefs' strength coming up.
“I started the season at 120, so I've been cutting from the very beginning,” Barrera said. “I went into tonight confident and looking for a pin, and that's what I got.”
The Huskies moved to No. 5 in the 2A rankings with a big win over Ephrata last week and collided head on with the 4A Chiefs who went into the match ranked 15th in Washington Wrestling Report's 4A rankings.
Jonathan Tanguma (113) and Riley Burgess (120), who finished seventh and fourth at the Gut Check, respectively put together back-to-back pins and the Chiefs closed hard to 33-24. But another real turning point came in the 126-pound match where Roberto Ramirez caught Moses Lake's Xzavier Villarreal with 36 seconds remaining in the first period to give the Huskies one more little boost, making it a 39-24 difference with two matches remaining.
“I was 137 two days ago and had to lose a bunch of weight,” Ramirez said. “I practiced hard in the morning and they again at night. Once I got down to 126 I felt a little bit weaker.
“I had beaten (Villarreal) before, but I was a little nervous. I went out there and went to work and got the pin.”
Moses Lake closed with a pin by Hunter White (132) and decision by Maximus Zamora (138), but Ramirez's win at 126 put the match out of reach.
Moses Lake travels to Lake Stevens on Friday and Othello has a CWAC double dual with Ephrata tonight.
Othello 39, Moses Lake 33
145 - Jovani Espindola, O, d. Sergio Guzman, 8-4
152 - Nathan Garza II, O. p. Karson Voss, :53
160 - Cruz Vasquez, ML p. Nick Alvarez, :50
170 - Easton Roylance, O, d. Levi Carlos, 7-6
182 - Bernie Garza, Jr., O, d. Bryan Guzman, 4-2 OT
195 - Everett Ashley, ML, p. Angel Gutierrez, :38
220 - Elijah Roylance, O, p. Thomas Molitor, :43
285 - Isaiah Perez, O, p. Sebastian Rodriguez, :42
106 - Josiah Barrera, O, p. CJ Balderas, :40
113 - Jonathan Tanguma, ML, p. Victorino Dela Cruz :30
120 - Riley Burgess, ML, p. Andy Cantu, :43
125 - Roberto Ramirez, O, p. Xzavier Villareal, :36
132 - Hunter White, ML, p. Jon Gomez, :23
138 - Maximus Zamora, ML, d. Arturo Solorio, 8-6