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Vashon wrestlers compete in Tri-State Wrestling Tournament
The Tri-State Wrestling Tournament held Dec. 18 and 19 at North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene is one of only two premier regional competitions that draws marquee prep wrestlers and the attendant collegiate scouts.
Vashon sent six wrestlers — seniors Geran Webb, Sam Chapman, Graeme Britz and Tucker Lazare, junior Dominik Stemer and freshman Robert Easton — to join the top 500 wrestlers from 54 schools representing Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.
Head Coach Anders Blomgren considers Tri-State to be the best tournament west of Iowa.
“It was an opportunity to test Vashon wrestlers against state champion and nationally ranked wrestlers,” he said.
Blomgren also used the competition to identify weaknesses each Vashon wrestler needs to address. Though the Pirates did not perform as well as he had hoped, Blomgren concluded that each wrestler gained significant experience from participating.
The Vashon standout was Webb, who claimed eighth place in his 215-pound weight class with three wins and a bye. Webb is himself a nationally ranked freestyle wrestler and two-time state tournament placewinner. As a medalist at Tri-State, Webb catapults himself into the top echelon of Vashon wrestling history.
In the five years that Vashon has attended Tri-State, only six wrestlers have finished eighth or better.
“Tri-State is the best competition anyone can get until the state tourney,” Webb said.
Webb pinned his first two opponents in the first period at 1:36 and 1:50. Then for the first time this season, Webb found himself in a contest that extended into the second period. Webb lost the hard-fought contest to the eventual runner-up of the weight class, who also is the defending 4A state champion. The next day, Webb refused to take an injury default for a pulled hamstring and pinned his first opponent at 2:28 in the consolation round, only to lose 7-2 and 17-1 in his final matches.
Even former state champion Sam Chapman found the Tri-State competition to be loaded with talented wrestlers. Blomgren considered Chapman’s 112-pound weight class to be one of the toughest there. Chapman won his first match 4-2 and then lost 17-2 and 14-2 to the eventual seventh- and eighth-place finishers, respectively. Blomgren noted that Chapman showed fierce competitiveness at this elite level.
Vashon’s unseeded grapplers faced stiff opposition and the double elimination format meant early exits for these four Pirates. Britz was pinned in his first match by a blue chip rival, but bounced back and almost won his second match, losing a tough 3-0 decision. Lazare’s adversaries pinned him in both rounds, but Blomgren saw moments of brilliance that he expects to develop throughout the season. Stemer battled to 4-0 and 9-3 decisions in the 135-pound weight class, which was packed with wrestlers who previously had tasted tournament success. Easton was pinned by the eventual Tri-State champion at 171 pounds.
Blomgren planned to use the information gleaned from the Tri-State competition to groom his team for the Rock Tournament, which took place Monday. The Pirates then headed north to a tournament at powerhouse Lake Stevens High School yesterday and today. Next home action is on Jan. 21.
— Marian Easton is the mother of wrestler Robert Easton.