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Wrestlers advance to regional competition
Five Vashon wrestlers — Madeleine Wolczko, Iris Spring, Alex Sohl, Shane Armstrong and Vince Jovanovich — won first place at the sub-regional tournaments held on Saturday. They led a contingent of 16 Pirate wrestlers who will compete this Saturday at the regional tournaments to qualify for the state wrestling tournament.
The other Vashon wrestlers who advanced from the eight-man brackets were Dominik Stemer, Sjors Steneker, Elliot Ellingsen, Robert Easton and Jacob Ludberg in second place; Trevor Figgins, Kevin Thomas, Maximo Mandl and Preston Morris in third place; and Rachael Thomas and Lucas Dzyacki in fourth place. Aaron Bomber, Codi Williams and Cole Devereau finished fifth and will serve as alternates at regionals.
At the sub-regionals, the Vashon boys team finished in second place out of the five teams; the girls team finished fifth out of 14 teams.
Head coach Anders Blomgren described the sheer number of wrestlers advancing as constituting one of the best post-season wrestling days in several years. The sub-regionals also saw many Pirates succeed in finally beating their rivals.
Blomgren said the most exciting rematch was Sohl’s 160-pound title victory over Kevin Zettel of Cascade Christian. Sohl had lost to Zettel by decision in January. On Saturday, however, with the score tied 3-3 in the third period, Sohl pinned Zettel at 5:44.
Two Pirate rematches came on the same day as the initial match. Morris made strategic technical adjustments after his 11-6 first round loss to a 171-pound Port Townsend opponent. The same two battled again later in the day, and this time Morris won 5-0 for a third-place finish.
Mandl, 152 pounds, also engineered a turnaround from his surprise 5-2 first-round loss to his Orting adversary. When they wrestled for the second time on Saturday, Mandl redeemed himself with a 6-2 victory and the third-place title.
In the 145-pound semi-finals, Steneker was pitted against the Orting wrestler who already had beaten him twice this season. Steneker came from behind to tie the match 8-8 at the end of regulation. Steneker’s two-point takedown in overtime gave him the win and sent him on to the finals.
In the heavyweight semi-finals, Jovanovich pinned his Orting nemesis in what was the seventh career meeting of these two combatants. Jovanovich’s win tipped his overall head-to-head record against his rival to 4-3.
Throughout the season, the Pirate coaches drilled the wrestlers in precision of moves. Armstrong wrestled a technically flawless match for the 215-pound title, and Blomgren said he demonstrated the best use of technique by a Pirate on the day. Armstrong showcased a move that is difficult for most wrestlers to master when he threw his Chimacum adversary with a body lock from the left side and then again threw him with a body lock from the right side.
Blomgren added that Ellingsen also displayed solid technique. He wrestled an error-free match in the semi-finals during his 10-0 dismantling of his Cascade Christian opponent at 171-pounds.
Spring and Wolczko also demonstrated good technique. Spring, currently ranked the fifth-best girl wrestler at 125-pounds, faced the sixth-ranked girl from Washington High School in the finals. Coach Dave Chapman described Spring’s effort as incredible as she established a lead and never relinquished it to win 8-4.
Wolczko, ranked fourth at 119 pounds, was unfazed by the increased competition at sub-regionals and continued her pinning ways against her three talented opponents (2:33, 1:05, 3:52) to win the 119-pound title.
The comeback of the day occurred early in the tournament and fired up the team. Williams trailed 13-0 to his 130-pound Port Townsend opponent when he began to score points and then pinned his foe at 4:58.
The boys regionals will be held at Bellevue Christian High School this Saturday, and will feature 10 teams. The girls regionals will be held at Shelton High School, where 50 teams will gather.