TACOMA — The Lady Huskies looked to be a real force heading to the big dance at the Tacoma Dome, capturing the Jan. 27 Lady Knight’s Invite and the Region 4 championship. The team qualified five wrestlers in quest of Mat Classic XXX hardware and seemed assured of bringing home their share, but Othello managed to place just two wrestlers in Emily Mendez (105) and Vicki Mendoza (190) and finished 35th with 24 team points.
“It didn’t go the Lady Huskies way this weekend. It was a tough weekend, but I’m proud of what the girls did on the mat,” coach JJ Martinez said. “I’ve always preached it sucks when things go against you, but at the state tournament anything could happen — and did as the girls had some calls go against them in some key matches that weren’t called all season long. But they left everything they had out there and wrestled hard.”
Emily Mendez turned back Adriana Gandert from Todd Beamer 6-3 in Round 1. She got past Kamiakin’s Diana Cantini 5-3 in the quarterfinal round, and then came ooh so close to making into the championship match with Grandview’s Maria Reyes, but lost a tight and contested 4-3 match to Bellermine Prep’s Alina Collins. Mendez then dropped to the consolation bracket and went on to dominate Ashley McGhee from Kelso, 8-4, but was turned back by Skyview’s Hikaru 6-3 to place fourth.
Vicki Mendoza got out of the gate with a first round pin of Spanaway Lake’s Letauaeletise Hunkin, but the Region 4 champion had a rough go of it losing by fall to Tatum Heikkila from Aberdeen bouncing her down to the consolation bracket. She pinned Everett’s Stephanie Ramirez, lost by fall to Daniele Jolley from Warden, and then was pinned a third time in a seventh-eighth place match by Hanford’s Grace Nelson.
Region 4 Champion Liz Giles (140) pinned first round opponent Hali Deck from South Kitsap. She dropped a 12-2 quarterfinal decision to Washougal’s Brooklyn Wurm-Wertz, and then lost by fall to Kentwood’s Alexandria Sanford and was eliminated from the competition.
Immediate offseason plans for the Huskies are to reflect a little as possible with the way things ended up and put the sting of Mat Classic XXX to use as a motivator for a return trip to the big show and prove the Lady Huskies can hang with the top 10 teams in the state.
Othello is losing Giles and Vicki Mendoza to graduation, but have a talented group of returnees for the 2018 season, which no doubt will rebound with a purpose.
“This could be a blessing in disguise,” Martinez said. “I know this team is angry — I know this team is hungry. This experience will throw fuel into our fire. I know our girls can’t wait for next season to start.”
The Lady Huskies are already preparing for offseason workouts and plan to play in some tournaments and attend camps.
“They are committed to finding out what our team is about,” Martinez said. “I think they’ll come back with a fury and will want to show what they can do at the state level.”
Yelm repeated as champion with 108 points. Union was second with 77. Kentwood edged out Federal Way 66-65 to place third. Hanford finished fifth with 50 points. Warden and Davis tied for sixth with 47. Othello finished with 24 points and ended up in a 5-way tie with Wahluke, Ephrata, Highland and Sequim for the 33rd spot out of 127 teams participating.