Pirate wrestlers battle back hard for success

After closing out December with a lackluster team performance at their own Rock Tournament, the Vashon grapplers turned in an amazing effort at the massive Everett Classic on Saturday.

With illness, injury and fungus sidelining most of the squad, including team anchor Shane Armstrong with a neck injury, seven lone varsity wrestlers competed against 26 other teams from around the state. As usual, most teams were from much larger 2A, 3A and 4A schools.

Astonishingly, after the first two rounds of the 16-man pig-tailed brackets, the crew of seven Pirates were in the lead — with all seven winning decisively in the first round and most winning in the second. By the end of the third round, the group was in a tie for third and finished the day fifth out of 27 teams. The final placing was a huge statement by the young Pirate squad, as five of the seven competitors are only sophomores. All seven wrestlers ended the day in the medals.

Sophomore Chase Wickman cruised to the championship without seeming to break much of a sweat. Senior Preston Morris took second in the tough 195-pound weight class.  Junior Joe Coller continued his roll through the 285-pound weight class with a strong fifth-place finish. Also taking fifth-place medals were a cadre a sophomores: Shane Williams, Clyde Pruett, Logan Nelson and Franklin Easton. Match of the day went to Nelson, who had his hands more than full with a brute from LaConner, whom he beat to earn a berth into the medal round.

Nine junior varsity wrestlers also competed at the event, each facing very tough competition. Freshman Bryce Hoisington won all three of his matches to take the win in his group. First- year grappler Rodolfo Flores notched two wins, as did senior Codi Williams. Also competing for Vashon were Preston Petersen, Chester Pruett, Peter Wolczko, Vanessa Williams, Ian McWhirter and Marquis Stendahl.

The first home dual meet of the season will be Thursday at the high school, as the Pirates take on Nisqually League nemesis Eatonville. Last season, Vashon beat Eatonville by 2 points in their gym, as the match came down to the results of the final bout. Junior varsity action will begin at 6 p.m. with varsity action under the light at 7 p.m.

— Cheryl Pruett is the mother of two Pirate wrestlers.

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