OTHELLO — Competing in the same region as the top-ranked defending champion Toppenish, state berths would be precious commodities.
Othello scored seven en route to a solid performance at the 2A regional tournament in Ellensburg. The Huskies had four finalists and three others work their way back up the consolation bracket to punch their ticket to the Tacoma Dome.
Isaiah Perez (220), T.J. Martinez (195) and Reese Jones (170) all were regional champions; Collin Freeman (152) lost a 2-0 match in the final and was a runner-up.
“We lost some guys that were at some tough weight classes, but overall I’d say we wrestled tough,” head coach Rudy Ochoa II said. “It’s a tough region, it’s tough to get guys through. I felt like we wrestled tough.”
Along with the regional champions and finalist, Ben Garza (120), D.J. Guzman (195) and Chemi Cantu (285) qualified via the back door. Garza and Guzman both took fourth place, while Cantu rallied to finish third. Jeremy Mendez (120), Sterling Roylance (138), Bernie Garza Jr. (160) took fifth place and will be state alternates.
Garza won a hard-fought match against teammate Jeremy Mendez 5-4 to reach the third/fourth place match and advance in the postseason. Guzman dropped his semifinal match to Martinez, but beat Toppenish’s Alexis Rock 3-2 in his first consolation match.
Jones made history by securing his fourth straight trip to the state tournament. Jones finished second at state a season ago and is ranked No. 1 at 170 pounds. He is poised for a return to the state finals after not allowing a single point during the regional tournament.
“He’s looking really good,” Ochoa II said. “Like I said, he’s one that always stays in good position and when he attacks on his feet he’s hard to stop. He’s got a really good set up. Pretty much he’s been wrestling really solid.”
Perez burst onto the wrestling scene as a freshman with three straight pins to win a regional title.
“It feels great,” he said. “I put a lot of work into it and it feels good to have it pay off.”
The 195-pound championship could be a state tournament preview as top-ranked Martinez outlasted second-ranked Andrew Carney of Ellensburg in overtime 4-2.
“T.J.’s been working really hard and working on some things,” Ochoa II said. “That Andrew Carney, he’s a tough kid. It was awesome that he was able to battle through being tired — he’s really banged up — and persevered.”