Grapplers face tough 3A and 4A opponents

By Marian Easton

For The Beachcomber

The 2009-10 Vashon High School wrestling team launched its preseason with grueling back-to-back events. Each wrestler competed in five matches in two days against some of the premiere 3A and 4A wrestling programs in the state.

Head Coach Anders Blomgren said he was pleased with how well the team performed.

“The wrestlers stepped up to the challenge and fought tough every match,” he said.

Last Friday night, Vashon journeyed to a triple-dual meet against wrestling titans 4A Bethel, 4A Graham-Kapowsin and 3A Franklin Pierce.

The next day the team wrestled in the White River Classic Tournament, which featured predominantly elite 3A teams. These top-tier schools produced 50 percent of the 2009 3A state champions as well as numerous runners-up and state qualifiers. Many of these champion wrestlers participated in the tournament.

Blomgren said that scheduling bouts against this formidable level of competition allows his grapplers to experience the techniques used by the best wrestlers from the biggest schools. Rising to the occasion were many Vashon standouts.

Team captain Graeme “Gritz” Britz earned two impressive wins. Robert “Beaston” Easton and Jon Michael “Monrito” Monroe both had the first win of their high school wrestling career.

Blomgren credited the entire team with fighting hard each match and not being intimidated. Sjors Steneker is an example of this tenacious attitude, according to Blomgren. Steneker welcomed a chance for a varsity spot in the highly-competitive 145-pound weight class and battled each opponent for the entire contest.

Blomgren expected this weekend to be difficult for the team and admitted that he purposefully made the preseason schedule tough.

He said he was impressed that so many of the new wrestlers were able to handle the pressure of varsity competition and attributed this fact to the strong Island wrestling feeder programs of Rockbusters Junior Wrestling and McMurray Middle School.

“These wrestlers have learned solid fundamentals and have the mat experience to be physically and emotionally ready to compete at this level,” Blomgren said.

The wrestlers now must master the lessons they learned over the weekend. To accomplish this, during practice this week the coaches will identify what techniques the great wrestlers were using successfully, how each Vashon wrestler can incorporate these moves into his or her arsenal and how to defend against these moves in the future.

Several wrestlers mentioned to Blomgren that the decidedly difficult matches forged the unity of the team. The concept of facing a challenge together is right in keeping with this year’s Vashon wrestling slogan —“We’re on a boat.”

This week the wrestlers have an away match in Fife and an away tournament in Port Townsend. The team’s first home match is next Wednesday, Dec. 16, against Steilacoom.

— Marian Easton is a wrestling mom. Head Coach Anders Blomgren contributed to this report.

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