Nine Pirate wrestlers advance to state tourney

Kevin Thomas holds down his Nooksack Valley opponent. - Rik Forschmiedt Photo
Kevin Thomas holds down his Nooksack Valley opponent.
— image credit: Rik Forschmiedt Photo

Vashon will send nine wrestlers and two alternates to the Mat Classic state wrestling tournament to be held on Friday and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome. Leading the Pirate delegation of qualifiers are seniors Madeleine Wolczko, Dominik Stemer, Maximo Mandl, Alex Sohl, Vince Jovanovich; juniors Iris Spring and Elliot Ellingsen; sophomore Robert Easton; and freshman Shane Armstrong. Kevin Thomas and Preston Morris will serve as alternates.

The boys’ team accumulated 132.5 points at the regional tournament last Saturday and tied with Nooksack Valley High School for second place behind Orting High School out of the nine schools competing. The top three finishers from each weight class at the boys’ regional advanced to the state tournament.

The girls’ team finished 17th out of 44 schools. From the girls’ regional tournament, the top five placers in each weight class qualified for state from the 12-person brackets.

The most exciting match for the Pirates was Mandl’s last-second comeback in his semi-final round at 152 pounds. With eight seconds left in the third period, Mandl trailed Kris Windle of Port Townsend High School, 3-4. Mandl then got a 1-point escape and capitalized upon Windle’s poorly executed shot for a 2-point takedown at the buzzer. Mandl won the match 6-4 and with it the guarantee of going to state.

Sohl put on the best display of technique.

“The sequence of moves that Sohl used at the start of his finals match rivals the best I’ve ever seen in a high school match,” said assistant coach Per-Lars Blomgren. One portion of this sequence involved Sohl forcing Kevin Zettel from Cascade Christian High School off-balance, then moving in to take advantage with a hip toss. Sohl beat Zettel 7-0 to earn the 160-pound crown.

Wolczko advanced from the highly competitive girls’ regional and qualified for her fourth trip to the state tournament. In the hard-fought 119-pound finals against a Federal Way High School girl, Wolczko was down 3-4 with 30 seconds remaining. Wolczko released her opponent, and then got a takedown to tie the score 5-5. While working on a headlock, Wolczko lost her hold, got reversed and lost the match 7-5, girls’ coach Dave Chapman said.

Stemer frequently tests the mental toughness of his opponent with his aggressive moves at the start of a match. In the 135-pound semi-finals, Stemer demoralized his Nooksack foe with the first takedown, and then added an assortment of intimating physical moves for an 11-3 major decision and advanced to his second state tournament.

Jovanovich, 285 pounds, faced a familiar foe in Orting’s Matt King during the semi-final round. With the score tied 0-0 at the start of the third period, Jovanovich intensified his efforts and beat King 3-1, sending Jovanovich on a return trip to state.

Also going back to state is Elliot Ellingsen, who wrestled solid matches at 171 pounds. His semi-final 7-0 win against a Meridian High School grappler was methodical, very steady and mistake-free, Blomgren said.

Armstrong capitalized upon his deadly combination of a relaxed demeanor and explosiveness, Blomgren said. He systematically destroyed his strong Nooksack opponent in the 215-pound semi-final round for a 14-7 win.

Spring’s path to her third state tournament hit a detour after her surprise loss in the 125-pound semi-finals. But, she regained her internal fire and bounced back with three pins (1:52, 4:21, 0:43) on her way to fifth place, Chapman said.

Easton also had to qualify the hard way after his semi-final loss to Nooksack’s Nick Torres, the top-ranked 1A 189-pound wrestler in the state. Easton pinned his next opponent and then won a 5-2 decision to advance to state.

Girls Wrestling honors:

Vashon girls wrestling coach Dave Chapman was selected by a vote of his peers as the District II Girls’ Wrestling Coach of the Year. The girls wrestling team was also recently recognized with 1A Academic State Champion Award for a team GPA of 3.651.

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