Liberty Bell’s junior high wrestlers took on the Okanogan Highlands League last Friday (Feb. 25) in Tonasket as five schools met to determine the 2022 season champions for sixth through eighth grades.
Yolo Paz defeated cousin Greyden Paz for the gold in the 122-pound class, Greyden earning second-place silver. Marcel Sanders also garnered a silver for second place, and Lukus Vera and Gavin McAuliffe brought home third-place bronze medals in the season-ending competition.
In all, eight Mountain Lions traveled to Tonasket. Coach Ray Sanders was pleased with the effort.
“Greyden and Yolo have been wrestling together for years. It was fun to see these cousins battle for the gold,” the coach said. “Marcel Sanders was the only sixth-grader out there and he wrestled great. Lukus Vera dominated his opponent in his third-place match. It’ll be exciting to see him in high school next year.”
Sanders pointed to McAuliffe’s match for third as one of the special performances of the night. According to the coach, McAuliffe was down 10-0 in the third period of his match when he quickly turned things around, scoring a fall to end the match and take the bronze medal.
“Richie Lara-Ramos and Javier Lopez also wrestled well,” Sanders said. “Richie did get a pin and that felt good, but didn’t win enough to get into a medal match.”
With only one eighth-grader on the team this year, Sanders is already chomping at the bit for next year. “The junior high team will be stacked next year with hardened, experienced eighth-graders. I’m already looking forward to see what they can do,” he said.