Taking a minute to smell the roses before the spring schedule hits the ground runnin’

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The transition is always such a whirlwind and even though it doesn’t much look like spring out there, we hit the ground running because you know the spring schedule is on its way.

But let’s take a minute to stop and smell the roses.

The winter schedule had its moments. The Othello wrestling team went into the 2A state tournament as the fourth-ranked team in the state and came out the other side at No. 4 when the dust settled in the Tacoma Dome. Toppenish is still the tops, but Rudy Ochoa II’s guys knocked on the door one more time with another top 5 finish. Nothing in the world worth having is free, but I look for Rudy to join Wayne Schutte and Ruben Martinez as Huskies coaches with a state championship team.

“Next year we come back swinging harder than ever,” Rudy said in a text. “I want that team title bad.”

Rudy’s resume includes seven individual state champions in four years, dating back to 2016. He put two-time state champion Isaiah Perez (285) and Bernie Garza Jr. (182) on the top shelf this year. The Huskies also had state placers in Roberto Ramirez, 126, 4th; Arturo Solorio, 138, 3rd; Jovani Espindola, 138, 6th; Easton Roylance, 160, 4th; Elijah Roylance, 220, 5th.

Washington Wrestling Coaches Hall of Famer Ruben Martinez’s return to the Dome included some pretty good wrestling from his Royal City guys. Ruben spent a couple of decades developing and maintaining the Othello program, now he’s trying to do the same thing on The Slope.

The Knights finished seventh with state placers Dominic Martinez, 120, 2nd; Daniel Bonilla, 145, 3rd; Lorenzo Myrick, 160, 4th and Ryder Eilers, 285, 5th.

Othello junior Emily Mendez wrestled for a 105-pound state championship in the Girls Mat Classic, and even though it didn’t turn out like she wanted, I’d like to think that 45-1 is a job well done. But knowing Emily, she’s going to focus on the ONE until it lights the torch for a senior season. But let’s face it, anybody that can beat Emily Mendez deserves a tip of the hat, kind of like Roberto Duran-Ray Leonard used to do after their classic confrontations. I have no doubt she’ll go back to work and come out on a mission one more time.

It doesn’t look much like track and field season just yet, but look for Wahluke to take a run at the SCAC East title.

Tanu Buck is coming off a second-team, all-SCAC season a year ago as a sophomore. The Warriors’ 800-meter man is a year stronger and a year smarter going into 2019. I would think he might give coach Joel Dugan some help at the 400 or maybe even jump it up to the 1,600. After watching Buck drive the lane against Yakama Tribal, I’m thinking fearless doesn’t even begin to describe a guy with a kick to the tape.

Dugan tells me they have 81 athletes out so far this year, and to keep an eye on Mirna Gallaga in the throws. Gallaga is making her mark in the discus, but I suspect she can contribute in several areas when she sets her mind to it.

And for those of you that don’t know, Wahluke is bringing in former world record triple jump holder Willie Banks March 23 for a World Record Camp and discussion.

Mark it on your calendar, because this is something the Columbia Basin doesn’t see every day. They’re also including Andre Phillips, Erin Aldrich and many other collegiate and Olympic athletes to have a chance to work with the elite track and field athletes in small groups and hear their success and struggles in an intimate setting.

If you need more information on the World Record Camp, Dugan can be reached at jdugan@wahluke.net.

Rodney Harwood is a sports writer for the Columbia Basin Herald and writes a weekly column for the Sun Tribune. He can be reached at rharwood@columbiabasinherald.com

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