Othello girls open tournament season at Warden Saturday

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Bob Barrett photo - Othello’s Bernice Mendoza (on right) will be the first Huskie on the mat this Saturday at the girl’s sub-regional tournament in Warden.

Nine years ago when coach JJ Martinez started the Othello girls wrestling program, he set his sights on the same goal coaches Wayne Schutte and Ruben Martinez had established for the boys program — to come home from the state tournament with some hardware and to continually finish in the Top 10.

The goal of both programs is to peak at the right time — to be the best they can be the weekend of the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.

“Number wise we are where we expected to be,” Martinez said. “Our goal is to get a state ring every year.”

It appears Martinez may have his Huskies peaking at the right time. The girls head into this Saturday’s post-season sub-regional tournament at Warden following a surprising upset of top ranked Yelm and third ranked Federal Way at last weekends Lady Knights Invite at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo.

Washington Wrestling Report’s top ranked Yelm squad was fresh off a 189-168 win over Federal Way at the Lady Lancer Lipstick Open when they ran into a determined Huskie squad from Othello.

“The whole purpose of going to the Lady Knights tournament was to get a better feel for what Yelm and Federal Way and the other west side teams had,” Martinez said.

The young Othello team was up to the challenge.

“Our girls just went out and did their jobs,” Martinez said. “They were not intimidated and before we knew it, we were leading the tournament, and just before finals we were in third place.”

Gabby Rodriquez, Emily Mendez and Jackie Peguero all won their championship bout by pin and the Huskies outscored Yelm 157-155 to win the team title with Federal Way in third with 154.

Elizabeth Giles advanced to the final with two victories by pin but lost her title bout 7-1 to Chelsey Rochester of Yelm.

“Liz has a great shot at being in the finals at state if she can limit mistakes and wrestle to her potential,” Martinez said. “Emily is peaking at the right time. She beat two ranked girls in the Othello Tournament she had lost to earlier in the year.”

Mendez defeated top ranked Maria Reyes of Grandview to claim the championship at the Lady Huskie Invite.

Team depth helped the Huskies to earn the title at the Lady Knights tournament and that same depth will be useful for Othello in this weekends sub-regional at Warden.

“Ruby Villalabos is starting to put it together,” Martinez said. “Same thing with Gabby who has gone up a weight class because our region is stacked at 100.”

The top four ranked wrestlers in the state at 100 are all in Region IV. Only four can qualify for state from the region.

“Another couple I have been impressed with lately are Iyazely Barraza and Leslie Rodriquez,” Martinez said. “Iyazely has put in a lot of hard work this season and it is showing. She is starting to make better moves and smarter choices. Leslie has been staying after and working hard and her performance is starting to show the results.”

Saturday’s sub-regional at Warden is the girl’s version of what the boys call a district tournament. Teams from the north side of the eastern half of the state including Warden, Wenatchee, Eastmont, Moses Lake, Quincy, Royal, Wahluke and the Spokane area will compete for four berths to next week’s Regional Tournament at East Valley of Spokane.

At the regional site, teams from the south including those from the Tri-Cities and Yakima area will join the battle for the all important four berths per weight to the state tournament.

“Our thing is how many girls can we get through to the state tournament,” Martinez said. “Last year we got 10 thru and that is part of the reason we took third place. We have to get those numbers into state.”

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