A young Bullpup boys squad that gathered experience and momentum in the second half of the season heads into District 8 playoffs as the No. 1 seed. Led in scoring by senior Jayden Stevens, the Pups finished the regular season 12-7 and GSL play 8-1.
“This group of kids has great camaraderie through the highs and lows,” says Varsity Head Coach Matty McIntyre `99. After some losses early in the season, the team found momentum, avenging losses to Ferris, Lewis & Clark and Mt. Spokane. “We started the season slowly but then found our way.”
District play over the weekend yielded the Bullpups a familiar foe in the Richland Bombers. “We always seem to cross paths with them,” McIntyre says. And the Mid-Columbia Conference competition is as robust as ever. Perennial powerhouses Kamiakin (RPI 5), Richland (RPI 9), and Chiawana are always tough and look tough again this year. The top 3 teams from the District 8 Championships advance to the regional round of the State 4A tournament the weekend of Feb. 25 and 26.
Coach McIntyre says the key to making a deep run into the playoffs will be “execution. We have to make the right plays at the right time.”
The Bullpup boys tip off vs. Richland at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Scarpelli Gym.
The Bullpup girls played a solid regular season from start to finish, and regularly held a spot in the 4A Top 10 rankings statewide. They secured the No. 1 GSL seed for District 8 playoffs with a win over Mt. Spokane on Feb. 4, finishing just behind 3A Mead in the GSL.
Coach Mike Arte says the team’s keys to this year have been great team chemistry with fantastic senior leadership. “Our three seniors—Shanaya Byrd, Sitara Byrd and Ally Bears—have all been outstanding in fostering a tremendous ‘team-first attitude’ with all the girls.” That kind of leadership has led to some outstanding performances. “Even though we have had lapses on the offensive end of the floor our defense has been solid all year.”
The District 8 playoff picture looks similar for the girls. The MCC is loaded with three good teams. Pasco is ranked number one in the state and Chiawana is close behind. Richland is a very good team too. “We have our work cut out for us but knowing the competitiveness of our team, they will be up for the challenge,” Coach Arte says.
The Bullpups girls tip off vs. Chiawana at 5 p.m. Tuesday night in Scarpelli Gym.
Coach Danny Pearson excels at bringing newcomers to the Bullpup wrestling team, complementing a strong, young core that has gathered experience and racked up wins this winter. In a season just finished, 11 wrestlers placed at the GSL Championships and seven advanced to Regionals last weekend. Three Bullpups are headed to the Mat Classic this weekend: Sophomores Josh Neiwert and Isaac Muniz, and freshman Noah Holman.
Neiwert lost just one match during the regular season at a national tournament in Ohio in December. Even with a loss at Regionals he still secured a 3rd-place finish and has a good shot at a state title, Pearson says. Isaac Muniz has been solid all season and was runner-up in his weight class, and Noah Holman took the championship in his weight class.
Of the less experienced Pups, Pearson was especially impressed with the rapid improvement of Mario Rivera, a first-time freshman who won a GSL championship. And wrestling for the first time as a senior, Erick Rivera earned some accolades with his second-place finish at the GSL tourney.
The Mat Classic XXXIII is Feb. 25 and 26 at the Tacoma Dome.