Wrestling team begins season with a packed roster

The Vashon High School Wrestling season is underway, and this year’s roster numbers almost 30 wrestlers.

Head coach Anders Blomgren said this year's team is the largest he’s had in close to a decade.

“We’ve got a wide range of abilities, from five wrestlers returning with state tournament experience to rookie wrestlers, including several seniors,” he said.

Every wrestler has been giving his best effort every practice with “our returning wrestlers definitely setting the tone for the team,” said Blomgren.

One such wrestler is senior Dominik Stemer, who considers the keys to success this season to be physical conditioning and work ethic. Stemer earned a state tournament medal with a top-eight finish in February.

“I know how hard we need to work, and I want to set a good example for the new guys,” Stemer said. “I try to help the new wrestlers get a sense of the best move in each situation.”

Mastering additional wrestling moves is an essential part of a wrestler’s preparation. Returning state tournament participant junior Elliot Ellingsen used the off-season to analyze how he could improve.

“Building on my killer cradle, I wanted to add more offensive moves to my arsenal,” Ellingsen said. “I know that I will be on people’s radar after making it so far at state.”

Similarly, state participant senior Vince Jovanovich said he seizes “the challenge of having a target on my back after last year’s tournament.” This has prompted him to train harder coming into the season.

Joining the team this year is senior Alex Sohl, who has returned to wrestling after a multiple-season hiatus.

“I am using all of my previous wrestling training and ability. It feels very natural to be back on the wrestling mat,” Sohl said.

Senior Peter Johnson is beginning his first season wrestling. Johnson is a star baseball catcher who wanted to get into better physical shape before spring.

“I had heard about the difficulty of the wrestling workouts.” Johnson said. “And, yes, they are as tough as I had heard.”

The girls wrestling team also boasts a bumper crop of new athletes, with six girls turning out so far. The girls are anchored by three-time state placer senior Madeleine Wolzcko and two-time state participant junior Iris Spring.

Girls wrestling coach Dave Chapman said girls wrestling is a growing sport both on Vashon and across the nation.

“Girl wrestlers continue to show improved technique and athleticism,” he said.

During her high school wrestling career, Wolzcko has experienced firsthand how the increased interest in girls wrestling has translated into fiercely competitive matches.

“Having more girls on our team this year will make a difference in practice because everyone is pushing each other to improve,” Wolzcko said.

While the future looks bright for Vashon wrestling this season, the coaches still find it is difficult to make any predictions.

“I think that in many of the matches we will be underdogs, but we can fight for every point and every victory,” Blomgren said. “I look for each wrestler to improve all year.”

Vashon Wrestling will face some powerhouse teams in its first action on Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Auburn Tournament.

— Marian Easton is a mother of two Pirate wrestlers.

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