EAST WENATCHEE — “Team score is irrelevant, it's all about qualifying at this point,” Othello coach JJ Martinez during the break as officials set up the championship mat at the Girls Region 4 Sub-Region North Tournament in East Wenatchee Saturday afternoon.
It's a good thing, because the Huskies were out front by 200 points at that point and with six in the finals, the runaway train was well on its way to another decisive tournament victory. Othello (263.5) doubled second-place Eastmont's (95.0) score and the rest of the field fell into the also-ran category in the 30-team tournament to determine seeding at next week's Girls Regional Wrestling Tournament at PJ Taggares Gym.
The Huskies put six in the finals and crowned two champions. Emily Mendez (41-0) remained undefeated, winning a local shootout by 5-4 decision over Melanie Flores of Moses Lake in the 105-pound championship match.
Jacky Peguero (36-7) will go into the regional tournament as the No. 1 seed, pinning Madison Clark of Wilbur-Creston at 4:20 to win the 120-pound title.
“We started Day 1 off pretty well, but I wasn't very impressed with the way we wrestled on the second day,” Martinez said. “There's some things we need to work on. But having regionals in our home town is big. I want to give a shout out to Warden and their coaches, we're like one big family. Between Wahluke, Royal, Quincy, Warden and us, we hope to showcase Columbia Basin girls wrestling.”
The Basin strutted its stuff at the Sub-Region North meet, but the show was all Huskies.
“This was the second time I've seen Melanie, she used to wrestle at 100 and now she's moved up. It was a good match,” Mendez said. “It's still fun. As you go through the postseason, you get tougher and tougher girls and the competition adds to the suspense. You're like, OK, let's see what's going to happen today? That's what makes me keep going.”
Warden's Aaliyah Escamilla has lost just four times all season, which didn't include a match in this tournament. The Cougar junior improved to 28-4, pinning Cailee Denison of Tonasket at 4:15 to win the 100-pound division.
“My goal is to make it to state and it's important to have the right mindset and heart, and not give up easy points,” said Escamilla, who led the Cougars to 10th place. “My goal every week is to wrestle with confidence, do my thing and leave a champion. I took third at state my freshman year and was fourth last year. My goal is to win this year, but you have to get there first.”
The Columbia Basin put on a show Saturday. Quincy crowned a champion to finish third. Moses Lake finished fifth, Wahluke also crowned a champion en route to sixth place. Escamilla led Warden to 10th place.
Ephrata senior Mya Spencer (43-0) has dominated the 145-pound division since moving up from 125 and the Sub-Regionals were no different. Spencer, who wrestled for a state championship a year ago, pinned Charlie Johnson of Liberty (Spangle) at 2:22 to cap her tournament with yet another championship.
“People are starting to wrestle me differently, looking for a different attack,” Spencer said. “You have to be ready right from the whistle. This is definitely my best season as far as my technique. I want to get back to the state championship match and that's been in the back of my mind all season. Now I'm just doing the work to get there.”
Quincy's Shannon Workinger (30-6) is on track to something big down the road. She capped her Sub-Regional tournament with a championship at 140 pounds by pinning Rashann Olsen of Ephrata in 38 seconds.
Wahluke's Laly Gonzalez was all smiles coming off the mat after winning the 155-pound championship. Gonzalez (26-4) made short work of Amber Glover-Jenkins of Chewelah with a pin at 1:50.
“Last year I was third here, so I'm happy with the improvement,” she said. “Winning here is big, because it shows the hard work is paying off. I'm more of a counter-wrestler. I don't attack as much as I react to what they're doing. I was fourth at regionals, so I'm trying harder to improve next week too.”
The Region 4 tournament is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at PJ Taggares Gym
Top 10 teams and local scores — 1. Othello 263.5. 2. Eastmont 95. 3. Quincy, 82. 4. Wenatchee 71. 5. Moses Lake 69. 6. Wahluke 62. 7. Newport 60. 8. Deer Park 58. 9. West Valley 57. 10. Warden 54. 12. Ephrata 52. 18. Royal 40.
Local placers (Top four advance to regionals)
100 - 1. Aaliyah Escamilla (28-4), Warden. 3. Xochitl Tafoya (21-18), Quincy. 4. Virginia Pineda (11-16), Othello. 5. Bernice Mendoza (21-15), Othello
105 - 1. Emily Mendez (41-0), Othello. 2. Melanie Flores (26-11), Moses Lake. 5. Rosary Rodriguez (21-12), Moses Lake
110 - 2. Denise Guerra (32-15), Othello. 3. Cynthia Diaz (26-5), Quincy. 6. Alexis Monday (21-17, Othello.
115 - 2. Iyazely Barraza (24-9) Othello. 5. Haley Felker (23-12), Wahluke
120 - 1. Jacky Peguero (36-7), Othello. 6. Kimberely Avila (19-17), Moses Lake
125 - 2. Carmelita Garcia (18-16), Othello. 3. Lizbeth Vasquez (9-15), Othello. 6 Emily Marcial (4-13), Royal
130 - 4. Esmeralda Mendoza (17-17), Othello. 5. Stephanie Valdespino (10-8), Wahluke
135 - 2. Yesica Neponuceno (18-10), Othello. Karen Arrellano-Cruz (7-12), Wahluke
140 - 1. Shannon Workinger (30-6), Quincy. 2. Rashann Olsen (28-12), Ephrata. 6. Leslie Rodriguez (27-15), Othello
145 - 1. Mya Spencer (43-0), Ephrata. 3. Marilee Garza (20-16), Warden. 6. Selene Velazquez (16-16) Othello
155 - 1. Laly Gonzalez (26-4), Wahluke. 6. Serena Jewell (9-25), Moses Lake
170 - 3. Brenda Salgado (13-11), Quincy. 4, Kaitlyn Goodman (25-14), Othello. 5. Kimberly Rangel (2-12), Wahluke
190 - 5. Serenity Franz (14-17), Moses Lake. 6, Bianca Urias (9-11), Warden
235 - 3. Marissa Dela Rosa (29-7), Royal. 5. Estephania Vargas (26-13), Othello