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Vashon's grapplers lost to Orting, finish second in their league
The Pirates’ road to the Mat Classic State Wrestling Tournament begins when Vashon hosts the Sub-Regional qualifying round to be held at the VHS Gym this Saturday, Feb. 6. Wrestling will start at 11 a.m. with the finals starting at approximately 1 p.m. Grapplers from Orting, Port Townsend, Cascade Christian and Vashon will compete in eight-man brackets. Each team may enter two wrestlers in each weight class with the top four finishers advancing to the Regional competition next weekend. Many of the wrestlers who will be trying to qualify on Saturday are among the best 1A grapplers in the state.
Vashon Wrestling lost its showdown for the Nisqually League title to the Orting Cardinals 46-27 in a dual meet last Thursday and finished its season in second place.
Their strong finish sets the stage for the Pirates as they head into the post-season tournament — with high hopes and great expectations — this weekend.
The Vashon coaches had expected Orting to be a tough foe because its team is loaded with returning state champions and placewinners. Yet the Cardinals are a unique blend of friendly rivals and fierce competitors. Before the dual meet, every member of the Orting team arrived at the Vashon wrestling room sporting a stick-on moustache. Then both the Pirates and the Cardinals challenged each other to pre-match contests of back flips and front flips.
However, once all of the wrestlers were under the spotlight on the main mat, they were strictly business.
Vashon racked up five wins against Orting. Assistant Coach Per-Lars Blomgren considered the highlight of the evening to be Elliot Ellingsen’s pin of Arthur Fetter, who is ranked as a top 10 1A wrestler. Ellingsen kept up with Fetter move for move during the first period. Then late in the second period, Ellingsen pinned Fetter.
Three Pirate seniors had pins in the first period: the Island’s own number-three-ranked 1A (ranked ninth statewide) Geran Webb at 20 seconds; number-two-ranked 1A Sam Chapman at 48 seconds; and Graeme Britz at 1:27.
In the final seconds of his exciting match, senior Tucker Lazare put the Cardinal’s Keegan Norris on his back. The referee signaled a pin, but the timekeeper ruled that the clock already had expired. The result instead was an 11-10 decision for Lazare.
The night before the Orting meet, Vashon had traveled to Eatonville for a dual meet, which it won 36-32. Many Pirates had excellent outings in this close contest. Chapman pinned a tough Eatonville wrestler at 1:17. Lazare’s pin halfway through the second period started the momentum for Vashon’s success. Britz clinched the team win for the Pirates with his pin at 55 seconds.
Several Vashon wrestlers had asked the coaches to add an extra tournament so that they could gain additional wrestling competition before the post-season. Blomgren was pleased to support this kind of determination and last Saturday a portion of the Pirate squad attended the Washington High JV Tournament.
At that tournament, Madeleine Wolczko took first place in the girls’ tournament with a pin, technical fall and decision. Iris Spring took second after a pin, decision and loss in the finals. Robert Easton took first place in the JV tourney with two pins and a decision. Anthony Sawyer overcame a 9-6 deficit in the third period to pin his opponent. Vince Jovanovich relied on a devastating cradle to get a pin. Aaron Bomber dominated his adversary with a pin. Not to be outdone, Cole Devereau got a quick pin of his own. Kevin Thomas won by decision in an overtime match. No final team scores were kept for this JV tourney.
On Saturday, Vashon will host the Boys’ Sub-Regional Tournament, which is the first of two qualifying rounds leading to the State Tournament.
Blomgren plans to adjust the team’s practice regime for the next three weeks to ensure that the Pirates are peaking physically and mentally for these upcoming crucial competitions.