By CHERYL PRUETT
For the second year in a row, Vashon wrestlers took second place in the 15-team regional competition. It was held last Saturday at Castle Rock High School.
The day got off to a rough start when two of the 15 wrestlers were scratched at the last minute. The remaining 13 regrouped, but it was a rough first round with only six winning their bouts and the other seven starting their double-elimination day with a loss. At the end of round one, the Pirate team was sagging and in a tie for third. Shaking off the doldrums, the team bounced back, and in round two they amassed 10 victories against only three losses and moved into sole possession of second place.
By day’s end, six Vashon grapplers had moved through the regional tournament and on to the state competition in the Tacoma Dome this coming weekend. With final, pivotal victories last Saturday, four more Pirates made strong fifth place showings and will be alternates to the state competition.
Regional champions from Vashon were sophomore Chase Wickman and seniors Preston Morris and Louis Jovanovich. Taking second was senior Shane Armstrong, still wrestling with the handicap of a heavily splinted hand and forearm. A third-place finish went to junior Joe Coller, and rounding out the field to State with a fourth-place finish is sophomore Clyde Pruett.
Alternates to the Mat Classic event this weekend are freshman Bryce Hoisington, senior Trevor Figgins, and sophomores Chester Pruett and Logan Nelson.
Senior Ian McWhirter finished sixth along with sophomore Franklin Easton. Competing in his first regional tournament, freshman Cori Williams wrestled well in two matches and gained valuable experience. Representing Vashon but missing action were brothers Shane and Codi Williams.
Senior Vanessa Williams, also a first-time wrestler, competed at the regional tournament. Coach Dave Chapman said that she wrestled well and noted that it is a feat for a first-year wrestler to make it to the tournament.
There were several matches of note throughout the day. Every match was a veritable brawl fest, as the top wrestlers from the region all fought for a trip to State. In each weight class, only the top four advance.
Franklin Easton, heavily bandaged from ribs to fingers, gets a match of the day nod for his gritty, come-from-behind, wait-until-the-final-five-seconds-before-I-pull-a-victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat kind of bout. He was behind 5-9 with 35 seconds to go and managed to take the win — thereby living the adage, never, ever give up.
Another match of note was Clyde Pruett, whose opponent was a senior from Stevenson High School and currently ranked eighth in the state. Winner of the match would have a guaranteed spot at State, loser would wrestle for alternate. Regulation time ran out with the score knotted at 7. Thirty long seconds into overtime, Pruett finally got the takedown and his first trip to the Tacoma Dome.
Champions Chase Wickman, Preston Morris and Louis Jovanovich were dominant in each of their matches. Bryce Hoisington had an excellent first match, beating a senior from Castle Rock. After tiring of having close matches, Chester Pruett soundly defeated his rival from Bellevue Christian in a match for fifth place. Logan Nelson put the hammer down on his final opponent to take fifth. Joe Coller was solid and strong throughout the day, losing only one match to his teammate Jovanovich. Ian McWhirter fought hard all day and finished a highly respectable sixth. With only a partial regular season under his belt, Trevor Figgins scrabbled his way to fifth.
Action in the Tacoma Dome will run all day Friday and Saturday.
— Cheryl Pruett is the mother of two Pirate wrestlers.