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Dual meet showcases wrestlers
Fans at the dual wrestling meet last Wednesday between the Vashon Pirates and the Steilacoom Sentinels were treated to a glimpse of the keys to Vashon wrestling’s culture of excellence.
Key #1: Commitment to excellence by the team members. This commitment involves a high level of mental and physical preparation. The Pirate wrestlers relied on superior wrestling technique, according to Ken Baron, the original Rockbuster junior wrestling coach and a longtime observer of Pirate wrestling.
For example, it took Geran Webb only 27 seconds to get a pin after securing a head and arm from the standing position. Webb’s reputation continues to spread — he was recognized by the WIAA/Seattle Times as a State 1A Athlete of the Week for his four first-round pins last week against Port Townsend.
Graeme Britz spent his off-season wrestling and martial arts training. His improved balance and technique earned him a fall. Dominik Stemer is another wrestler whose hard work is paying dividends this season. Baron noted how Stemer used his power moves and explosive speed for a 16-5 major decision.
Key #2: Outstanding coaches. Baron praised the current Pirate coaches Anders Blomgren, Per-Lars Blomgren and Dave Chapman as excellent teachers. Baron credited the coaches’ high expectations for the team coupled with their rigorous physical conditioning regime as the reason “our young wrestlers come on so fast.”
Sjors Steneker is an example of a second-year wrestler who Baron thinks is developing quickly because of high-quality coaching. Against the Sentinels, Steneker used an eggroll to secure a pin.
According to Baron, Elliot Ellingsen also rapidly is becoming formidable because of the coaching he is receiving. Ellingsen turned his opponent on his shoulders and had the fall within 55 seconds.
The physical conditioning demanded by the Pirate coaches was obvious throughout this dual meet. With one exception, in any match that went beyond the first round, the Steilacoom wrestler tired and the better-conditioned Vashon wrestler won.
Key #3: Vashon’s strong feeder organizations. Vashon begins grooming its future wrestlers at a young age. In fact, the Rockbusters, ages 4 to 11 years old, demonstrated their warm-up exercises under the spotlight on Wednesday. Sam Chapman excelled at Rockbusters Junior Wrestling and McMurray Wrestling. Now, under the tutelage of the high school coaches, Chapman has become an even more fearsome grappler. Against Steilacoom, Chapman had a pin at 1:46.
Key #4: Fan support. The support of the community has been essential to Vashon wrestling’s success. One of the loudest cheers last Wednesday came when Aaron Bomber earned a fall with zero seconds left in the match after Bomber sensed his opponent was poorly positioned.
Key #5: Expectation of success. Vashon wrestling has a rich history of success stories and tremendous individual effort to be the best. Evidence of this legacy are the showcase plaques won by Vashon state wrestling champions.
In the dual meet, the final score was Steilacoom 42, Vashon 40.
Last weekend, a select group of wrestlers traveled to the elite Tri-State tournament in Idaho. The results of that tournament will be published in next week’s issue.
On Monday, Dec. 28, Vashon wrestling hosts the Rock Tournament. Wrestling starts in the Vashon High School gym at 9 a.m., with the finals beginning at 5 p.m. Organizers expect some of Washington’s top wrestling programs from all levels to attend, including defending 4A champ Lake Stevens, defending 1A champ Orting and perennially strong 4A Auburn. Many of the wrestlers participating in the Rock Tourney are expected to be state contenders.
— Marian Easton is the mother of wrestler Robert Easton.