Thanks to some big, early wins, the Othello wrestling team defeated the Toppenish Wildcats Tuesday, Jan. 22, to claim the top spot in the CWAC. The Huskies are now the only undefeated team in the league after ending Toppenish's own undefeated streak of seven wins. The now 8-0 Huskies started the night wrestling at 170-pounds and got off to an aggressive start with a 12-8 win by Jesus Montes. Othello followed it up with five more wins in a row to build a large lead. One of those wins came by a 42-second pin from senior Matt Melo at 182-pounds. Previously injured, he made his return a little more than a week ago at the Dream Duals and showed at Toppenish that he's done watching from the edge of the mat. Head coach Ruben Martinez said his comeback got his team fired up and got them wanting to do big things, as well. "They key for us was trying to get Matthew Melo back on track and he was able to go in there and get a pin in less than a minute," Martinez said. "I think that really inspired the rest of the kids and we just continued from there." Freshman Anthony Ruiz followed up Melo's win with a pin of his own over Ramon Briseno. Two more wins from senior Derek Gilbert and junior Bubba Ruiz were big for the Huskies and Martinez said their wins might have big implications in their seeding for districts. "That was a big win for him (Gilbert) because that sets him up to possibly be the No. 1 seed in the league," Martinez said about his win over last year's third-place finisher Raul Pech. "And then Bubba needed that big win against his opponent (Roberto Luna) to also have a shot at getting that No. 1 seed." Junior Isaiah Barrera got a fall in 1:35 over Luis Torres to be the sixth Othello wrestler to get a win in a row. The aggressive start is exactly what Martinez asked his team to work toward before the dual got underway. "It was a full gym ... if we win the first six matches then we can take the crowd out of it," Martinez told his guys in the locker room before the match. Toppenish mounted a bit of a comeback after Barrera's match, getting wins in five of the next eight bouts, but it was too late for them as the damage was already done. With three more wins from AJ, Lucas and Eric Garza, the Huskies sailed to a big win. Martinez said his team has some good momentum going right now and is happy with the way they bounced back for the big win after a disappointing performance in Spokane. "I'm really proud of the kids and it was probably one of the best, complete team efforts we've had in quite some time," he said. "We were able to keep our composure and do what we needed to do and came out with a great victory."
Boys close out regular season undefeated The Huskies boys wrestling team finished off their season in impressive fashion Thursday Jan. 24, besting Ellensburg at home with a huge 56-8 victory. Head coach Ruben Martinez was very happy with the win and said prior to the team's celebrations that he hopes his squad will carry this momentum into district tournaments this weekend. "We're just on fire right now," he said. "The kids are picking it up right when we needed them to." And the Huskies had plenty to celebrate on senior night - every senior won - and combined with six more wins from underclassmen, went 12-2 in their final dual of the regular season. At 120-pounds, junior Alec Espinoza was first up for the Huskies getting a 10-0 major decision over Cristian Contreras. Up next, senior AJ Garza bested Travis Lyman 7-2, followed by senior Lucas Garza who won a 10-2 major decision over Dillon Dompier. One more win by sophomore Lorenzo Garza at 138-pounds gave Othello a healthy 14-0 lead over Ellensburg before their first loss of the night came from an 11-2 win by Allyn Burvee. Senior Eric Garza crushed any hopes of Ellensburg mounting a comeback by defeating Austin Lyman 8-4 at 152-pounds putting his team up 17-4. Ellensburg's final win of the night came from Tait Stevenson at 160-pounds. Martinez said building big leads like this has been their calling card this season and is due to all the hard work and extra time his wrestlers have put in. "We've worked hard and we deserve it," Martinez said about their perfect league record. Another difference maker was the fact the wrestling team didn't take any time off over the holiday break. They were in at 9 a.m. working to make sure they were in top form for the final stretch of the season. "The reason we're doing so well is we were able to get the right kids committed during the holiday break," Martinez said. "If we can get kids coming in when everybody's home sleeping or baking cookies ... we're in here working hard at 9 in the morning and that work paid off." After their last loss, the Huskies went berserk, earning five pins in a row from Jesus Montes, Matthew Melo, Anthony and Bubba Ruiz and a 29 second pin from senior Derek Gilbert. Senior Anthony Barrera - the No. 1 wrestler in his weight class - finished off the Bulldogs with an 8-1 decision over Hunter Bair. His younger brother Isaiah won by forfeit and scored the last six points for Othello. Following the match, the older Barrera said this was his best season of four years with the team and hopes to continue the success in districts and beyond. "This is our fourth time taking it (CWAC league title) in a row and it feels good because all of us were freshman and now we're seniors and we've had the CWAC title every time we've been here," Barrera said. While being the top wrestler for his weight in 2A is a big accomplishment for him, he knows there's still work to be done and looks to prove why he's in that top spot at districts. "Now I just gotta go defend it, I've gotta go strong and try to take first," Barrera said. His coach said they're going to take a short break to let the victory sink in before going back to work at practice. Martinez wants to thank the community and family members for supporting them all season and hopes to see their enthusiasm in the postseason. The Huskies return to the mat Feb. 1 and 2 for the district tournament at West Valley.