Pirate wrestlers prepare for the upcoming season

Senior Geran Webb, right, and Robert Easton face off at practice. - Sy Bean photo
Senior Geran Webb, right, and Robert Easton face off at practice.
— image credit: Sy Bean photo

With the falling leaves comes wrestling season, and the Vashon High School grapplers are preparing themselves for the challenge.

There might not be an “i” in team, nor is there one in football, soccer, basketball or baseball, but there is an “i” snuggled between the “l” and “n” in wrestling, a sport where both team and “i’s” are important.

The wrestling team boasts four seniors: Graeme Britz, Sam Chapman, Tucker Lazare and Geran Webb. What is it that attracts them to such a grueling, combative sport? Why do they subject themselves to this demanding sport? Or, rephrasing the question, what is it about wrestling that pulls these seniors into its embrace?

Here’s my guess: It’s a continuation of child play. Look at children play around with one another when they’re young — before their parents, teachers and adults tell them to stop or slow down before they get hurt or wreck something. In wrestling, they’re allowed to roll around on the mat with one another all they want. In fact, they’re encouraged to do so, and those who roll around the best are acclaimed winners. However, they discover a lot of energy and hard play (they might call it work) is required to execute this “dance.”

The athletes have coaches who help them learn moves that score points, which makes the play even more fun. And girls are invited to join the fun. If you wish to observe youngsters roll around on the mat, come out to a Rockbuster practice, where you’ll see kids from kindergarten through sixth-grade play and practice. Remember, it’s not war, it is play.

Now let’s learn a bit about these four high school seniors.

Graeme Riley Britz, who may also be known as Gritz, started wrestling when he was a seventh-grader at McMurray. A trip to China a couple of years ago piqued an interest in martial arts, which he feels has helped him with flexibility and being in tune with his body. Off-season, he’d be glad to have you join him in one of his martial arts workout sessions. Be aware of his powerful high kick.

As he competes on the mat, Britz feels both the thrill and difficulty of the sport and appreciates the support from the community that he receives. This summer, Britz attended Boys’ State Camp at Central Washington University — a government/leadership camp — in addition to a team wrestling camp in Oregon. With an interest in science, he hopes to follow a career in aerospace engineering.

Sam David Chapman, a.k.a. Slammin’ Sam, began his wrestling career as a 4-year-old Rockbuster. He claims to get a natural high from this sport, which might seem absurd unless you know the physical preparation that is required. Surprisingly, Chapman appreciates his coaches pushing him to his limits and getting him ready for each of his matches. He has aspirations to return to the Tacoma Dome and compete once more in the finals, having placed first and second in the last two years. Chapman also is a natural mechanic who can fix any problem his truck may have. Give him a call the next time you have trouble with your fan belt.

Tucker Lazare is a second year wrestler. This reporter was unable to catch up with him for an interview, so you'll have to believe his coaches who report he “is always smiling ... a hard worker, music-lover and soccer player.” I’ll try to get a word out of him during the season to share with you.

And senior Geran Webb?

“Call me G-Webb, Green-webbhoffer or Geran Eugene Webb, just don’t call me late for practice,” he said.

“What’s up with that?,” I asked.

“Our coaches may be a barrel of laughs, but they are hard-nosed and serious about being prompt to practice sessions,” he said. “Should someone come stragglin’ in without an excused tardy, the whole team suffers the consequence by running extra laps at the end of practice.”

He said he prefers his teammates be committed to practice. He hopes to have a career in business and marketing after high school.

Joining these seniors on the wrestling team are juniors Madeleine Wolczko, Dom Stemer, Sjors Steneker, Vince Jovanovich, Maximo Mandl, Steven Cooper and Keegan Shrum; sophomores Iris Spring, Jordy Lopez, West Brenner, Kevin Thomas and Elliott Ellingson; and freshmen Robert Easton, Nick Betz, Jon Michael Monroe, Aaron Bomber, Cole Devereaux, Jusef Griffin and AJ Sawyer. Managers are Corine Pruett, Courtney Gateman and Amy Pritchard. The team is coached by Anders and Per-Lars Blomgren, Dave Chapman and BJ Nelson.

The competitive season began yesterday at a Takedown Tournament at Todd Beamer High School. The team has matches at Bethel High School on Friday and a tournament at White River High School on Saturday. Mark your calendars for the first home meet: Wednesday, Dec. 16, versus the Steilacoom Sentinels.

— Carl Blomgren is the father of coaches Anders and Per-Lars Blomgren.

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