Vashon grapplers taste success in two tourneys

Pirate Maximo Mandl, top, wrestles an opponent from Everett. - Sy Bean photo
Pirate Maximo Mandl, top, wrestles an opponent from Everett.
— image credit: Sy Bean photo

There is an old sports adage that a team improves faster if it competes against more talented opponents. The Vashon wrestling team followed this philosophy when it participated in two top-tier tournaments in three days, carving out a niche for itself in the ever-changing competitive world of high school wrestling.

At the Rock Island Tournament on Monday, Dec. 28, Vashon hosted nine of the most talented wrestling teams in the area. The overall tournament winner was 4A Todd Beamer, with 3A Everett, 1A Montesano and 4A Kamiak each claiming a share of a three-way tie for second.

Vashon finished seventh with seven Pirate wrestlers placing in their weight classes in the eight-man bracket format.

An outstanding match of the day was Kevin Thomas’ double overtime win over 4A Quincy’s Jesus Chavarin to win third at 140 pounds.

In wrestling matches, the first overtime is a single 60-second sudden death period. In contrast, the seldom-needed second overtime consists of two 30-second periods during which each wrestler starts in the referee’s position.

During his double overtime, Thomas was awarded two points for a takedown only to see Chavarin receive one point for an escape. Thomas described how he “held onto Chavarin’s ankle and knee and didn’t let go until time expired,” to preserve his one-point lead for the victory.

In the 215-pound finals, Geran Webb battled his nemesis Alec Bird from Everett, the defending 3A state champion.

Bird demonstrated tremendous strength and applied his signature leg ride to maintain control of Webb. The final result was Bird, 6-0, over Webb.

Dominik Stemer also took second, losing 6-0 to Manny Ybarra of Quincy at 130 pounds. Ybarra was a state tournament runner-up and a three-time Rock Tourney champion.

Stemer said he suspected that Ybarra’s “moustache was the source of his super-human power.”

There were four Pirates who placed sixth: Aaron Bomber, Jon Michael Monroe, Cole Devereau and Elliot Ellingsen. Iris Spring impressed the crowd with her 3-1 record in girls’ exhibition action.

Observers noted that several ranked wrestlers were missing from their teams at the Rock Tournament.

Assistant Coach Per-Lars Blom-gren explained that high school wrestlers are limited to a maximum of 33 matches before the post-season. Since league action has not yet begun, these opposing wrestlers were too close to their match count limits to participate in Vashon’s tournament.

The match count restrictions also affected the prestigious Lake Stevens Viking Invite Tournament, which the Pirates attended last Wednesday.

Many opposing wrestlers had to opt out of this grappler showcase, resulting in vacancies in some of the 16-man tournament brackets. Vashon arrived with depleted numbers due to illness, but still had five of nine Pirates place.

The Vashon team finished 11th against a field of high-level competition.

Blomgren pointed to Ellingsen’s sixth-place finish at 160 pounds as the highlight for Vashon. Ellingsen “fought extremely hard and never gave up” against the third-ranked 4A wrestler from Lake Stevens and top grapplers from Blaine and Orting, said Blomgren.

Other Pirates who placed were Webb (5th), Stemer (7th), Thomas (8th) and AJ Sawyer (8th).

On Saturday Vashon will attend the Everett Classic Tournament to face more big-time opponents.

— Marian Easton is the mother of Pirate wrestler Robert Easton.

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