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Pirate wrestlers bring home hardware from state tournament
More than 1,200 wrestlers from 270 teams across Washington descended upon the Tacoma Dome on Friday and Saturday for the Mat Classic XXIII high school state wrestling championships. The Pirates sent nine wrestlers to the state tournament and four placed — Madeleine Wolczko, second; Dominik Stemer, sixth; Iris Spring and Robert Easton, seventh.
A pivotal contest on Wolczko’s path to the finals was her quarter-final match against Catherine Kelly of Redmond High School, the top-ranked 119-pounder. In this bout, Wolczko’s strategy was to avoid taking any takedowns. Instead, she matched Kelly’s intensity and aggression and used wrist control and arm control, coach Dave Chapman said. The third period started with the score 0-0. Wolczko escaped from the referee’s position and hung on to win 1-0. Wolczko devised a very intelligent way to beat Kelly, Chapman said.
This victory, combined with her first round pin (1:01) and her 5-1 semi-final win, sent Wolczko to the finals against Kelso High School’s Elle Mustion. The finals started with each wrestler unable to score against the other until Mustion got a takedown in the second period. Wolczko gave up a point to select neutral to start the third period, but then Mustion got another takedown to end 0-5. Chapman praised Wolczko’s performance in the tournament.
“This is a great way for Madeleine to finish her wrestling career. It couldn’t have been scripted any better,” he said.
By placing at her fourth state tournament, Wolczko becomes the fourth Pirate and the first girl in Vashon wrestling’s storied history to place four times at the state competition.
Dominik Stemer became a two-time state placer with his sixth-place finish at 135-pounds. Stemer followed a surprise first-round loss with two victories: a 4-1 win over a wrestler from Kalama High School and a 8-6 win over a top-ten ranked Zillah High School grappler. Coach Anders Blomgren described Stemer’s wrestling against Zillah as an almost flawless three periods.
In the next consolation round, Stemer trailed 4-5 to his Royal High School foe in the third period, but kept his opponent in bounds, then got in a single-leg takedown to win 9-7. In his last matches, Stemer lost to the eventual fourth-place and fifth-place finishers.
Iris Spring’s first match of her third state tournament pitted her against Kelso’s Shay Workman, the eventual champion of the weight class. Workman pinned her, but Spring bounced back and made quick work (7-0) of her first consolation round opponent.
Spring then wrestled a grudge match against Emily Birdseye of Highline High School, who had pinned Spring at regionals the week before. This time it was Spring who was doing the pinning, earning a fall at 4:19. Chapman noticed that Spring had made subtle changes that made her wrestling moves more effective.
In her next bout, Spring trailed Jazmin Mendoza of Mabton High School, when in the third period, Spring got five quick points with a reversal and a near-fall to win 10-6 and earn seventh place at 125 pounds.
In Robert Easton’s first match, he lost 5-12 to Omak High School’s Dylan Green, who was the eventual runner-up at 189 pounds. After pinning a Granger High School opponent, Easton faced Montesano High School’s Bo Russell, a wrestler whom Easton already had beaten twice and lost to once in close matches. Easton took control of the battle with two takedowns and a near fall to win 6-3. Then, Easton lost 0-5 to a tough wrestler from Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) High School. He followed this with a last-second takedown for a 6-4 win over Arnie Lopez of Chelan High School to claim seventh place.
Mat Classic returnee Elliot Ellingsen faced the toughest quarter-bracket in the most stacked 1A weight class, which included two defending state champions. In his first 171-pound match, Ellingsen trailed 0-5 to his Rochester High School opponent early in the third period, but never gave up and got the pin at 4:36. Ellingsen then lost to the eventual fifth-place and eighth-place winners.
Vince Jovanovich returned to his second state tournament and battled a ranked Zillah wrestler in the first round at 285-pounds. Jovanovich and his adversary traded reversals for a close match that ended 5-9. Jovanovich then battled Brad Ives from Omak, the eventual fourth-place finisher. Jovanovich gave it everything he had and twice fought off his back not to get pinned, but lost 0-11.
Alex Sohl pinned his Tenino foe in his first 160-pound match. At the start of the second period of his next bout, Sohl was down 0-4 to Zach Grimm of Columbia (Burbank), the eventual sixth-place winner. Sohl had started to close the point deficit when Grimm pinned him. In his third match, Sohl lost 2-4 to Dustin Silverthorn of Tonasket, the eventual seventh-place winner.
In his first consolation match, Maximo Mandl, 152 pounds, was tenacious and broke down the moves of Ridgefield’s Matt White. With time running out and Mandl down one point, he pinned White. Mandl then lost 0-8 to the eventual third-place finisher.
Shane Armstrong’s first match was against a 215-pound Zillah adversary and was tied 6-6 going into the third period. In a quick succession of alternating escapes and takedowns, Armstrong led 10-9 in the final seconds only to be taken down at the buzzer for a 10-11 loss. Armstrong then lost 4-8 to his Ridgefield opponent.
The boys’ team scored 23 points and finished 23rd out of 47 1A teams; the girls’ team scored 14 points and finished 25th out of 97 teams.