Othello girls hope for hot start at regional tournament

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Bob Barrett/courtesy photo Iyazely Barraza (left) and Denise Guerra practice in preparation for Saturday's regional tournament in Othello.

OTHELLO — Sub-Regional champions Emily Mendez and Jacky Peguero hope the home crowd will cheer on the Huskies to another team title in Saturday’s Region IV Tournament at Taggares Gym in Othello.

Denise Guerra (110), Iyazely Barraza (115), Esmeralda Mendez (13) and Yesica Neponuceno (135) all placed second at Eastmont’s sub-region.

Lizbeth Vasquez finished third while Virgina Pineda (100), Esmeralda Mendoza (130) and Kaitlyn Goodman (170) earned a fourth-place medal and a berth in the regional event.

The Huskies left the competition in the dust, scoring 263 points to run away from the second-place Eastmont Wildcats (95 points).

“I thought we could have done better,” Othello coach JJ Martinez said during Monday’s practice. “It is what it is and now we need to focus on that first match at region. The very first round is important to determining how many girls we get into the state tournament.”

Tournament wrestling usually includes some disappointments along with some pleasant surprises. Martinez was probably hoping to get some of his more experienced combatants through to the regional round, but he was almost certainly pleased with the advancement of many of his younger contestants.

Mendez won a 5-4 decision over Melanie Flores of Moses Lake to win her title. Flores placed fourth in state last year and fans can expect the two to meet for the regional title Saturday.

Peguero pinned Madison Clark of Wilbur in the 120-pound championship bout. Should Peguero win her first two matches she will likely meet the winner of Clark-Riley Guerrero (Sunnyside) in the championship round.

“With Jacky and Emily we need to solidify that regional championship to get the easiest way possible to get on that podium at the state tournament,” Martinez said.

The four Husky second-place finishers will have a tough opponent in the opening round when they square off with a third-place award winner from the southern region. Martinez believes a victory in that opening round will be a key to the Huskies ability to earn berths into the state tournament.

The southern sub-regional champion Sunnyside Grizzlies bring four champions and 12 entries to Othello. Washington Wrestling Report lists Sunnyside as second behind White River and ahead of Union and Hanford in the battle for the girls’ state title. Othello ranked eighth overall, according to Washington Wrestling Report.

Othello’s regional wrestling begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The eight-entry bracket will conclude with finals around 2 pm. The top four in each weight will qualify for Mat Classic XXXI in the Tacoma Dome on Feb. 15 and 16.

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