Selah sends 13 wrestlers to regionals after rugged district meet

Update: The Vikings took fourth place at the Feb. 21-22 Mat Classic in Tacoma. Senior Amadeo Flores Pimentel won this third state title at 220 pounds, while Jesse Salinas (132) and Jackson Yates (160) each placed third in their respective weight classes. Donny Schmidt placed fifth at 182 pounds.

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It’s been a long, grueling season, but for 13 competitors on the Selah High wrestling team, the season is just getting started.

After a third-place finish at the Feb. 7-8 CWAC district meet, the remaining Vikings will be competing in the Region IV Championships this weekend in Spokane. If they wrestle like they have over the past three months, coach Ken Mozingo believes he could send all 13 of those wrestlers to the Feb. 21-22 Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome.

“We’re feeling really good going into regionals,” he said. “After getting through our district tournament, we are battle tested. The CWAC is the best district in the state, with four of the top six ranked teams. It’s no joke.”

According to the Washington Wrestling Report, Selah is ranked No. 4 in Class 2A, behind No. 1 Toppenish and ahead of No. 5 Othello and No. 6 Ellensburg. Prosser (No. 14), Ephrata (No. 17) and Wapato (No. 20) also have proven track records over the years.

Toppenish, the defending 2A state champion, won this year’s district meet with 405.5 points, followed by Othello (279) and Selah (258.5). Mozingo said facing such an elite level of competition all season has forced his wrestlers to find a higher gear since they first took the mat back in November.

“Most teams have no idea what we have to go through just to get out of district,” he said. “We’re leaving some kids home who would have a chance to place at state.”

Leading the way for Selah in the postseason is two-time defending state champion Amadeo Flores Pimentel. The senior 220-pounder is ranked second across all classifications in Washington and won his third district championship last Saturday.

Also reaching the district finals were seniors Evan Anderson (120) and Jackson Yates (160), both state placers from a year ago. Anderson lost to top-ranked Jeremiah Zuniga of Toppenish, while Yates lost a narrow 6-5 decision to Lorenzo Gonzalez of Ellensburg.

Another state placer from a year ago, sophomore Jesse Salinas, ended up taking fourth at district, but Mozingo believes he’ll be ready to raise his game the next two weekends.

“Jesse ran into a couple buzzsaws and had to face the No. 1 and 2 kids in the state,” the coach said, referring to Haiden Drury of Toppenish and Francisco Ayala of Ellensburg. “But I think he will rebound at regionals and hopefully get back on the podium at state.”

Selah saw a number of other wrestlers place among the top five: Moon Thompson (fifth, 113), Judah Yates (third, 138), Clayton Chandler (fifth, 138), Alonzo Lopez (third, 145), Ethan Garza (third, 152), Donny Schmidt (third, 182), Tietan Nelson (fourth, 220) and Michael Ray (fourth, 285). Junior Marcos Gonzales just missed the cut, taking sixth at 106, and will be an alternate at the regional tournament.

Mozingo applauded the entire team’s performance at district, but he gave a special nod to Lopez, who lost his first match at 145 pounds and came back all the way through the consolation bracket to claim third place.

“We had some kids show up at the right time, and Alonzo really impressed us,” he said.

After the regional tournament, the Vikings will be looking to improve upon last year’s seventh-place state finish. Mozingo believes his guys are up to the task.

“We’ve been in the top 10 four out of the past five years, but this year we’re shooting for top five,” he said. “I know we can get there, but I keep reminding the kids that we have to take it one match at a time. We need to iron out some of the little mistakes and get back to basics.”