WARDEN — Quincy’s Cynthia Diaz (110) danced up the podium, all the way to the top spot.
Her improbable run to a district championship and a No. 1 regional seed culminated with a last-second take-down to upset tenth-ranked state veteran Mariah Garza of Warden.
“It feels really good,” Diaz said. “I’ve worked really hard, but I’m not done. Hard work still works. I have regionals and my goal is to get into state so I know I need to push it a lot more to make it there. It feels really good to know that hard work pays off in the end if you push yourself — that third round, those full six minutes — in the end it all pays off.”
Diaz denied host Warden a third consecutive district champion, scoring two points as time expired. Garza, trailing 6-5, worked herself free of Diaz’s grasp for a one-point escape and had control of a leg.
However, Diaz was able to maneuver toward the inside of the mat and fall on top of Garza for the take-down just before the whistle.
“I hopped on my other leg and hipped her and she went down and I just jumped on her,” Diaz said. “I got right on her and I got my two points.”
Diaz’s victory highlighted a day of dominance for Columbia Basin wrestlers. Othello and Warden, with the most numbers by far, cruised to first and second, respectively, in the team race. The Huskies totaled 260 points and advanced 14 to the regional tournament at Wahluke. The Cougars scored 184 points and had seven wrestlers move on in the postseason.
Wahluke (fifth), Quincy (sixth), Ephrata (eighth) and Royal (ninth) made the top 10.
Marissa De La Rose of Royal finished second to Diana Lopez of Wahluke in the 155-pound division.
“We got more through than I anticipated,” Othello head coach JJ Martinez said. “That finals is not enough for us. There’s some disappointing matches overall that I felt that we should have won. We were expecting to just about everyone in... We have a lot of things to work on to get ready for the tough, tough competition.”
Othello had the most finalists with seven, but only crowned one district champion — Nikki Velazquez (130). Velazquez faced Akina Yamada of Lakeside in a repeat of the championship at the Othello Girls Invitational last month. Yamada was disqualified in that match.
On Saturday, Yamada kept things close quarters, but Velazquez avoided a take-down and won on a lone escape in the second round, 1-0.
“All she wants to do is throw me,” said Velazquez, who is ranked third at 130 pounds. “That’s why I have another week to practice for her because I know next week she’s going to want to come out and beat me and I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Warden took five into the finals and had three champions. Aaliyah Escamilla (100) and Angelica Vela (105) began the final round with two wins for the hosts. Escamilla outlasted Moses Lake’s Melanie Flores 3-2. Neither girl scored a take-down, but Escamilla was awarded two points for technical violations by Flores.
“I think it was more nerves coming into it and it becoming a reality,” Warden head coach Valerie Hernandez said. “She (Escamilla) has set her goals quite high and her expectations are high also, but I think she handled it quite well. She’s been competing since she was eight years old so she’s handled it pretty well.”
Monica Canales (125) rounded out Warden’s district champions with a 7-0 victory against Othello’s Rose Gutierrez, receiving a raucous ovation.
“It was nice to actually see the crowd be loud and the girls really appreciated that. I appreciated that so it was fun,” Hernandez said.