The Huskies girls wrestling team ripped through the competition at the 2013 Kelso Girls Invitational, Saturday, Jan. 5, on their way to a first-place overall finish, stunning the competition in the process. Some of the best teams from across the state were there and Othello faced some tough competition, besting favorites Kelso and Centralia while two of their wrestlers took home first-place medals and continuing their undefeated streaks. Senior Allesha Reyes took home first in the 137 division while sophomore Tatum Sparks got first at 124. Both remain undefeated while senior Julissa Valenciano lost her first match of the season in the final round against Winlock's Rachel Archer - the two-time defending state champ - to take second in the 112 weight division. Othello head coach JJ Martinez said before the invite that this would prove to show how far has team has come and felt they demonstrated how their hard work is paying off. "Overall, we ran into some real tough competition but our girls, I was proud of every single one of them," Martinez said. "I was really impressed at how everyone wrestled this weekend." This was Othello's first chance to be tested by teams outside of the eastern portion of the state and Martinez liked how he saw his team show off what they've learned in front of some big schools and front-runners for state competitions. "The biggest accomplishment we got was we went to the west side and everyone was shocked to see a team from the east side go and take the tournament," Martinez said. "Everyone was counting on Kelso and Centralia and everyone was just surprised." One of the keys to Othello's first-place finish was freshman Lexy Garza's win over Royal's Anahi Gomez. She didn't win any medals but was able to overcome an opponent who had beaten her a few times already this season and in so doing, gave the Huskies just enough points for the first-place team finish. "Without her winning that match, we don't take first," Martinez said. "She's down by two with 10 seconds to go and she just hits a desperate move to catch a girl on her back to score and win the match. Here we go with the first-place trophy because of a match like that." Another strong effort from junior Phelicia Perez proved to be a difference maker, as well. With 30 seconds to go, she was pinned by Washoughal's Erin Locke but was able to score enough points to help the team to the win while finishing second-place as an individual in the 130-pound weight class. "The girls we needed and were looking for to help us at state scored big for us this past weekend," Martinez said. In addition, to the girls getting valuable experience against new and tough opponents, the coaching staff learned a few things, also. "It was the whole reason we wanted to go there," Martinez said. "We get tired of seeing the same girls over and over every weekend. Here ... it was somebody new, somebody tough and it's going to pay off in the end." The Huskies sent a message at Kelso and the team looks poised to continue setting the pace for the sport of girls wrestling in the state. For Martinez, all roads lead to the Tacoma Dome and this was another step in the right direction. "It's just one step closer to the team goal, which is to bring back state hardware," Martinez said. Up next for the team is a short trip for the Royal Rumble this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Royal High School. Martinez hopes it will continue to provide his team with more opportunities to improve and rack up more mat time before their postseason begins. "We're winding down to the end of the season ... and we're just trying to get as much mat time, experience and knowledge before we go to the postseason," Martinez said.