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home : sports : huskie sports May 2, 2016

1/22/2013 5:37:00 PM
Girls take home three titles
Sophomore Tatum Sparks (left) takes on Grandview’s Desiree Zavala Tuesday, Jan. 8. Photo by Erik Pague.
Sophomore Tatum Sparks (left) takes on Grandview’s Desiree Zavala Tuesday, Jan. 8. Photo by Erik Pague.
Freshman Lexy Garza wrestles an exhibition match against Grandview Tuesday, Jan. 8. Photo by Erik Pague.
Freshman Lexy Garza wrestles an exhibition match against Grandview Tuesday, Jan. 8. Photo by Erik Pague.
Erik Pague

ROYAL CITY - Othello's girls wrestling team continued to show what they're made of Saturday, Jan. 12, with a second-place team finish at the Royal Rumble wrestling tournament. Allesha Reyes, Julissa Valenciano and Tatum Sparks all took home titles while another four wrestlers took second.
With Reyes' win at Royal in the 137-pound bracket, she remains the only Othello wrestler to be undefeated. The senior has had an exceptional season and head coach JJ Martinez knows she's a force to be reckoned with if she continues this success in the upcoming postseason.
Valenciano, another senior, won at 112 while her teammate Lyzzette Garza took home silver in the same weight class. Junior Phelicia Perez took second at 130-pounds while Amanda Kinder, Maribel Rodriguez and Lyzzette Garza took second in their brackets, as well.
Earlier in the week, sophomore all-star Tatum Sparks experienced a rare loss - her first this season - wrestling in an exhibition match against Grandview's Desiree Zavala. She redeemed herself Saturday with her first-place finish at 124-pounds and both Martinez and Sparks felt the loss earlier in the week was an eye-opening experience.
"That's a lesson learned for both Tatum and I," Martinez said. "We can't take anyone lightly. Tatum's pretty tough herself, but coming down to the end of the season, anything can happen and we both learned that."
Now that Sparks and her coach have seen what is possible in the sport, they don't want to take any more chances with districts and regionals coming up soon. Martinez, Sparks and the entire team are going to approach things a bit differently now that they're in the critical final weeks before the postseason begins.
"We've got to open our eyes and we have to take every match as if someone's out to take our state title away from us," Martinez said.
Martinez is glad something like that happened recently rather than being upset in the state tournaments because it gives him and the team a chance to address any lingering weaknesses they may have.
"It was a wakeup call for me," he said. "As the head coach, I have to do a better job to prepare not just Tatum, but everyone else. We can't take anyone lightly, it doesn't matter how tough you are and there could be someone out there tougher."
Two freshmen, Lexy Garza and Heather Fitting also showed some great efforts at Royal, earning fifth-place finishes and proving they're learning quickly. Martinez sees how Garza has improved and how she's starting to realize the potential she has.
"She's just continuing to get better and better," he said. "Lexy's come a long way. Lexy's attitude has also changed for the better and she realizes that she can do something if she keeps putting the hard work into it."
With the whole team showing promise, Martinez is excited to see them on the upswing right before the end of the season. He and his team are aware of what's on the line and know they can't afford any mistakes. They've come too far to let up now.
Up next for the girls is Dream Duals Saturday in Spokane beginning at 8 a.m. Martinez said he's also trying to schedule one last home dual for next week but hasn't confirmed anything yet. Details can be found here as soon as they become available.

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