WARDEN – Championships come and go. Champions graduate, but one thing is certain when you wrestle for Warden High School, you compete with honor and you wrestle with heart.
The 13th annual Jeremiah Schmunk Invitational on Saturday wasn’t the Cougars’ best tournament, crowning just one champion in five championship matches. But they put it out there in the competitive spirit of a fallen brother and the memory of a community member that paid the ultimate price for his country.
Schmunk (1998-02) donned Cougar blue and represented his town well every time he stepped into the circle. The National Guard infantryman was killed in Iraq in 2004. The tournament, which is in its 13th year, is in his honor, paying tribute to a young man that fought for the freedoms his country enjoys. For the first 12 years Jeremiah’s mother Shirley would hand out the medals at the podium.
She had a previous commitment this year, but the time honored tournament marched on.
“We talked to the kids about honoring the tradition. We tell them we have to live by that honor,” Warden head coach Brent Cox said. “We look at it as a benefit, it teaches kids the value of hard work and commitment.
“Jeremiah was a great wrestler in his time. He was a fun kid to be around. His ultimate loss was a big blow to the community. So I can’t see a better way to honor him than with this wrestling tournament and carrying on Warden tradition.”
Cougar senior Robert Arredondo hoped to wear the gold medal in his final Schmunk Invitational, but lost by fall to Luke Peebles of Kittitas in the championship match. But a runner-up medal in the first tournament of 2017 was a new beginning.
“I didn’t know Jeremiah or his family, but from what I’ve heard from my coach he was an outstanding wrestler and died defending the country he loved,” Arredondo said. “I respect the name of this tournament and the family. It’s important for us to support this event and wrestle with honor for our tradition here at Warden.”
Tonasket (171.5) came back with a strong showing in the finals, winning five championships and placing two runners-up to win the team trophy by just four and a half points. Warden had its chance, but only heavyweight Tommy Pruneda (285) won a championship bout. The Cougars were second with 167 points and Kittitas was third at 154.
“It wasn’t our best tournament,” Cox said. “We’re young all the way through our lineup and we’re still learning. I thought Robert wrestled well and ran into a tough kid in the finals.”
Martin Dominguez (220), Arredondo (195), Bryce Martinez (126), and Anthony Martinez (120) finished second.
Team scores: 1, Tonasket, 171.5. 2, Warden, 167. 3, Kittitas, 154. 4, Connell, 101.5. 5, Pateros, 71. 6, River View, 65. 7, Lake Roosevelt, 56. 8, Liberty Bell, 34. 9, Burbank, 11.
Warden placers: 1, Tommy Pruneda (285).
2, Martin Dominguez (220), Robert Arredondo (195), Bryce Martinez (126), and Anthony Martinez (120).
3. Elijah Gonzalez (170), Dominic Guerra (138), Tony Martinez (106)
4, Tyrone Mendez (182), Christian Gonzalez (170), Gilbert Rangel (138), Edgar Hernandez (132), Richard Gonzalez (126)
5, Ivan Dominguez (152), Abraham Suarez (120)