Othello wrestlers start on the road to the Tacoma Dome

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Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald - Bernie Garza Jr. (right) is a key returner for Othello this season.

OTHELLO - The record board in the room says they wrestle for championships, how they get there is one match at a time. The Othello Huskies will start their road to the Mat Classic at the Bob Mars Tournament in Kennewick on Saturday.

Head coach Rudy Ochoa II heads into his fourth season with the top heavyweight in the state in all classes in Isaiah Perez. Senior Easton Roylance is currently ranked eighth (152), along with Bernie Garza Jr (160), in Washington Wrestling Report. But the Huskies have already taken a hit when junior Eric Gomez (160) tore an ACL in the last football game of the season against Cheney.

“I loved our first week of practice. It’s an awesome group,” Ochoa II said. “They came in ready to work. I have a bunch of hard-working kids that want to get better.”

Perez is not only the top 2A heavyweight, but the top in the state in all classes. He’s on everyone’s radar after defeating Cy Hicks of Tumwater in last year’s epic heavyweight title match. Roylance and Garza give the Huskies a solid base in the middle of the lineup and Arturo Solorio (145) and Jaxon Rocha (130) are a couple more with exceptional experience.

“I think we have a great roster up and down the lineup,” said Perez, who is being recruited throughout the Pac-12 for his football skills. “There’s no one real leader. Some guys are more vocal than I am. I’m more of a lead by example kind of guy.”

Perez reminds Ochoa II, whose father Rudy Ochoa Sr., was was a state champion (1968) and part of the Othello’s back-to-back state wrestling teams in 1968-69.

“Isaiah reminds me of all the great ones on our championship board.” he said. “All of the extra work he puts in is an inspiration to the rest of the room.

“But we have a very talented room and they are following his lead because he wants to be the very best at whatever he does.”

As for the Central Washington Athletic Conference, it’s Toppenish’s title until someone knocks out the champ.

Toppenish finished third at the Mat Classic a year ago, but Othello (fifth) and Ephrata (12th) had top 20 finished and expected to make some noise again this year.

“It’s Toppenish’s title until someone takes it. But I’m very pleased with the number of kids out and the quality of work they’re putting in,” Ochoa II said. “We’re growing with experience and we’ll be ready when our chance comes.”

The Huskies are at Ellensburg on Dec. 7 and then host the Othello Invite Dec. 8.

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