TACOMA — The story of the local area lady wrestlers at Mat Classic XXX at the Tacoma Dome this past weekend had to be the success of Warriors freshman Laly Gonzalez-Nunez who was the first Wahluke girl to place at the event is school history. Gonzalez-Nunez was runner-up in the 145-pound weight class in her initial performance on the big stage.
“When I first got to the Tacoma Dome I couldn’t believe how big it was. It was unbelievable — I still couldn’t believe I made it this far,” Gonzalez-Nunez said. “My coaches didn’t want me to worry about who I was wrestling — they just wanted me to focus on the match and what moves I was going to do. When I found out the girl I was supposed to wrestle (in the first round) got injured, I felt bad, but deep inside I was happy because I won my first match.”
After advancing to the next round and beating Lindsey Crawford from Stanwood and having a shot at making the finals, Gonzalez-Nunez said the pressure began to mount.
“I’m not going to lie I was terrified. For a split second I thought that I might lose it (to Union High’s Nevaeh Cassidy). But I prayed and kept thinking about everyone who kept believing in me because they knew I had a chance of winning. So I started to gain my confidence, and when I had her on her back I just had to use all my strength to keep her from moving. Then I heard the whistle being blown. I got up and yelled yes…yes! When the match was over I ran to my parents and started crying because I made them proud of what I had just done.”
Gonzalez-Nunez then matched up with Glacier Peak’s Kiley Hubby in the championship bout, but suffered a fall to place second.
“Unfortunately I lost the finals match, but I didn’t care,” she said. “I got up with a good attitude and shook the girls’ hand and told her good job. I was proud of myself because I made it this far. Being in that moment was a moment I will never forget. But I couldn’t have done it without my coaches, Silvia and Jerry and my wrestling partner Diana Lopez — and everyone that wished me good luck at state. Thank you all for believing in me.”
Fate definitely had a bit of influence on Lay’s initial experience at the Dome when her first round opponent 3-time state champion Jamie (Flor) Parker-Borrero from Lakes High School was a no-show giving Gonzalez-Nunez a win by injury default. Tournament Director Jim Meyerhoff told Matt Massey with the Seattle Times Parker-Borrero weighed in for the bout, but she failed to appear. An unsubstantiated rumor circulating around the tournament had Parker-Borrero falling asleep somewhere in the stadium and unable to be located in time.
Hubby also arrived in the championship round via a first round bye. She pinned Eastmont’s Flora Morrow to advance to the quarterfinals. Hubby edged out Annabelle Helm from Union High 1-0, which put her into the final against Gonzalez-Nunez.
Coach Silvia Herrera knew early on Gonzalez-Nunez had what it takes to perform on a high level.
“Laly had a great season. She started off with couple losses and got more confident in herself as a wrestler, as a student and an athlete, and said she was going to make it to state with just the head and arm and that’s exactly what she did. At State she was confident as soon as she had that first win against Flora-Parker. Throw out her first and last match and she just dominated making history for Wahluke High School.”
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. Wahluke finished with 24 points and ended up in a 5-way tie with Othello, Ephrata, Highland and Sequim for the 33rd spot.