Connecting with the previous is so entrenched within the Sunnyside wrestling room that none of immediately’s athletes need to be informed about it, although the head of that previous got here practically a half century in the past.
That is as a result of the Grizzlies contribute mightily to their wealthy historical past yearly, hauling in Class 4A group trophies in every of the final three seasons and producing 26 particular person champions within the Mat Basic period.
However there’s an underlying theme to this 12 months’s motto of Constructing on Custom, an urgency to achieve a aim that Sunnyside has come achingly near reaching within the final two journeys to Tacoma.
Jason Moyer’s top-ranked crew is keen to take the one final step up, to search out these few further factors, and eventually attain the highest — precisely the place Sunnyside was 43 years in the past when this system captured its fourth straight Class AA state championship.
“It has been a very long time,” stated senior Alejandro Fernandez, who walks by that 1980 trophy exterior the principle fitness center each day. “To be a part of one thing like that, you would be ceaselessly in historical past right here. It could imply the whole lot to us.”
Sunnyside wrestling was the Valley’s first program in any sport to win 4 consecutive state titles.
All these years later, it stays unmatched.
Because the historic fourpeat from 1977 to 1980, Sunnyside has all the time been within the combine with the state elite and George Paulus constructed a Corridor of Fame profession ensuring of it. 5 of his state champions are part of Moyer’s employees and 4 of them have been two-timers.
“It is a powerful group for positive,” stated Moyer, who was Paulus’ longtime assistant and coached them as properly. “A few of them have coached somewhere else at different faculties, and now they’re again dwelling. We’ve different alumni are available and speak to the youngsters. To me, that is an enormous deal and it issues to a program to faucet into its historical past.”
“I grew up watching these guys and all the time seemed as much as them,” stated Fernandez, who gained final 12 months’s 132-pound 4A state title as a junior. “I feel it is nice for all of us and actually helpful — guys giving again to this system and giving again to Sunnyside Excessive Faculty. There is a chain that connects us.”
In Paulus’ last season in 2020, the Grizzlies got here oh-so-close to bridging the championship hole, ending second to Chiawana by 11 factors. Fernandez was a freshman on that group and contributed a fourth-place medal.
Moyer took over this system and, after the skipped pandemic 12 months, Sunnyside was second once more to Chiawana final season regardless of setting a college file with 11 medalists.
“After we acquired to a degree Saturday afternoon once we knew we could not catch Chiawana, it was like a intestine punch. It undoubtedly damage,” the coach stated. “However after a number of days it was clear we did not do something fallacious. We set a college file with placers and had some guys wrestle out of their minds. We did not screw it up and choke, we simply acquired beat. There’s numerous mutual respect with Chiawana. We really feel they do it the fitting approach, too, and it is all the time an incredible problem to compete towards them.”
With six of these 11 medalists again and a strong infusion of youthful expertise, Sunnyside has been ranked first in 4A all season. In second, you guessed it, it is Chiawana, now led by former Grandview coach Manny Plata.
Fernandez and sophomore Christopher Villanueva are presently ranked No. 1 in 4A at 132 and 145 kilos, respectively, and senior Mateo Armendariz is No. 2 at 285. Armendariz and heavyweight teammate Luke Almaguer have been each placers on the Reno Event of Champions final month.
With 14 wrestlers presently ranked within the high eight, this group might surpass final 12 months’s college file of podium placers. The Grizzlies are 4-0 in CBBN duals with two shutouts and have two matches remaining. Then it is on to district at Davis and regional at Hanford.
Fernandez continues to be deeply dissatisfied he did not have a possibility to develop into Sunnyside’s second three-timer. Tommy Villanueva stays this system’s just one and it got here through the AA fourpeat from 1977 to 1979.
“I used to be unbeaten through the brief (pandemic) season and projected to win as a sophomore, so it is arduous to not be fairly upset about lacking that probability,” he stated. “Nevertheless it simply took persistence. I knew my time would come.”
After capping his junior run in Tacoma with an 11-2 main resolution within the 132 last, Fernandez has had a twin agenda for his last season. To start with, there’s private enterprise.
“As a state champion, after all there is a goal in your again,” he stated. “It is more durable than the primary time however we now have guys in our room who’ve achieved it. You need to have a look at it like you have not gained a state title but. I see targets on all people’s again. That is why it is good we have been to some actually robust tournaments (Reno, Nampa). It is good to get put in your toes a pair occasions, take some losses and study some issues. It makes you higher.”
And secondly, there’s Constructing on Custom.
No one takes that extra significantly than Fernandez.
“Second place is nice and it is one thing to be happy with, but it surely wasn’t what we have been on the lookout for final 12 months,” he stated of Mat Basic. “I’ve all the time seen myself as a frontrunner, particularly now as a senior — one final dance for the group. I feel it could be nice to high it off with a state title. It has been such a very long time and we need to be a part of that historical past.”