East side girls wrestlers ready to showcase their skills in the Tacoma Done

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald - Nikki Velazquez (left) headlines an Othello squad ready to take a shot at a state championship.

TACOMA - The Eastern Washington girls are done beating up on each other on this side of the mountain. Now, it's time to find out how things shake out in the bright lights at the Mat Classic XXIX in the Tacoma Dome Friday and Saturday.

Melanie Flores (Moses Lake), Mya Spencer (Ephrata), Marissa De La Rosa (Royal City) and Abby Yorgesen (Mattawa) will represent their schools on an individual basis. Region 4 champion Othello qualified eight and Warden, which won back-to-back girls state championships in 2013-14, has seven wrestlers in the mix. Both have realistic shots at team championships.

“Regionals was a lot of pressure, so I told myself it's a regular tournament with something better at the end,” said Flores, who wrestles at 100 pounds. “I've learned tons over the year, things I need to work on, by wrestling these tougher girls. The thing I like about wrestling is the mental toughness that goes along with going out there and do what you do best.”

Spencer (115) made great strides this season Ephrata coach P.J. Anderson said. Now she will showcase that learning curve at the state level.

“Last year as a freshman, she was a little big timid. This year she's opened up and getting after things,” Anderson said. “I'd like to say I instilled that in her, but she entered the room this year with the idea of being more aggressive and it's opened a lot of things for her in terms of technique. She's pretty dangerous right now, so it'll be fun to see how she does at state.”

De La Rosa, the Royal City freshman, goes into the state meet with a 28-6 record wrestling at 155. It will be her first trip to the dome.

“She's having an excellent season. The brackets are pretty tough, but she's already beaten a couple of the girls that placed at state last year,” Royal coach Jerry Dutton said. “She'll be a little nervous, but she's technically sound and she'll do alright We're shooting for top five.”

Yorgesen (145) is also a first-year wrestler, but as a Wahluke senior this will be her first and only trip to the Tacoma Dome.

“She's very committed and very coachable,” said Wahluke coach Carolina Miramontes said. “We're very happy she made it to state in her first year. I think it will be a good experience for her.”

Othello won the Central Washington Girls League regular-season title for the third year in a row, the North sub-regional and now the Region 4 team championship. Even with that, many from this young group will be wrestling on the big stage for the firs time.

“We're pretty inexperienced. Kaylee (Martinez), Nikki (Velazquez) and Elizabeth (Giles) have all wrestled at the dome, but the other five are new to the Tacoma Dome,” said Othello coach JJ Martinez, who was the CWGL coach of the year. “Nikki and Kaylee have high expectations, they're looking for that state title. Mariah Deleon (145) is a returning all-state softball player. She's been on the biggest stage in another sport and I think that's going to help. I think I get more nervous than any of the girls.”

The Husky state qualifiers include Emily Mendez (105), Iyalhye Barraza (115), Ruby Villalobos (125), Nikki Velazquez (130), Elizabeth Giles (135), Kaylee Martinez (140), Mariah Deleon (145), and Estephania Vargas (190).

Warden qualified seven wrestlers with freshman Region 4 champion Aaliyah Escamilla (100) leading a savvy group.

“I am extremely excited about how we wrestled at regionals and it shows what they've gone through has paid off,” said Warden coach Valerie Hernandez, who guided the Cougars to back-to-back state titles in 2013-14. “Honestly, the regional tournament was extremely tough and that's what this side brings. I told my girls you came through the toughest regional tournament and you are going to do great (in Tacoma).”

The Cougars contingent includes Escamilla (100), Angelica Vela (105), Kasandra Ozuna (105), Mariah Garza (110), Alexis Mendoza (120), Monica Canales (125), and Karely Garcia (235).

For a look at the 2017 girls Mat Classic brackets long on to http://www.wiaa.com/subcontent.aspx?SecID=614


Quincy's Barajas earns No. 2 seed, two locals in B field

Raul Barajas (126) was the lone state qualifier for Quincy.

Barajas finished second at regionals after forfeiting the championship match. Barajas squares off against sophomore Cole Varick of North Mason in the first round.

Tanner Wallace (152) and Rey Rubio (285) are alternates for the Jacks.

In the 1B/2B bracket, Almira/Coulee-Hartline's Wyatt Zielinski (126) will start his tournament run against Concrete's Blaine Storms. Lind-Ritzville/Sprague heavyweight Tucker Guiles will wrestle North Beach's Seth Bridge in the first round.

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