Wrestlers take down the competition at dual meet

On Saturday, the Vashon High School wrestling team pitted itself against four top 1A teams in a dual meet hosted by Port Townsend High School. The Pirates finished second behind likely 1A state team title contender Omak High School.

Head coach Anders Blomgren was pleased with the Vashon wrestlers’ performance against Omak’s strong and seasoned wrestlers. The Vashon team easily handled the other three teams that were more comparable to the Pirates.

Four Vashon grapplers — Dominik Stemer, Alex Sohl, Sjors Steneker and Shane Armstrong — achieved the hat trick challenge by winning at least three matches that day.

No adversary was overlooking Stemer after Washington Wrestling Report ranked him as the fourth-best 1A wrestler in the state at 140 pounds. Stemer showed his continued solid development as a wrestler with three pins. His only challenge came in a loss against a Tenino foe who had an answer for everything that Stemer tried.

Sohl, 171 pounds, demonstrated his tenacity and resilience as he won four matches in a row after an exhibition loss to a highly-ranked Omak opponent.

“Alex is showing phenomenal body position and motion on the mat,” observed Blomgren.

Resilience and mental toughness are traits that the coaches seek to instill in all of the wrestlers. After the team loss to Omak, Blomgren gave the Vashon grapplers a speech extolling them to fight harder.

Blomgren thought that his speech may have garnered the greatest response from Steneker, who rebounded from his initial loss at 145 pounds by pinning his next three opponents.

Shane Armstrong used his high-energy style of wrestling to win three matches, including one by a pin.

The Pirates handily out-muscled the Montesano and Port Townsend teams. The Tenino team, however, was tenacious and compiled a 33-12 lead. Then Pirate Maximo Mandl pinned his opponent to spark a string of five pins in row for an exciting 42-33 come-from-behind Vashon victory.

The Vashon girls were the only girl grapplers at the meet and could only wrestle boys in exhibition. Madeleine Wolczko, 119 pounds, capitalized on the opportunity and pinned her Montesano opponent in the second round, lost to an Omak foe, and then lost 11-16 after a hard-fought seesaw battle against a Port Townsend adversary.

Rather than satisfy themselves with Saturday’s success, the Pirate coaches are already looking for areas of improvement for the team and will use videotape of the dual meet to fine-tune technique with each wrestler. Blomgren predicts that the Pirates will see many of these same competitors again in the post-season.

This weekend a select group of Vashon wrestlers will travel to the elite Tri-State Tournament in Idaho to face the best-of-the-best from the Pacific Northwest. Meanwhile, the girls’ team will head to the Yakima Community College Tournament to square off against their counterparts from Eastern Washington.

— Marian Easton is the mother of two Pirate wrestlers.

Four-way dual meet results:

Vashon vs. Omak: (l) 18 – 52; Vashon vs. Montesano: (w) 48 – 9; Vashon vs. Tenino: (w) 42-33; Vashon vs. Port Townsend: (w) 48 – 25.

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