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Twelve wrestlers advance to regionals
The Vashon wrestlers demonstrated a heightened level of intensity at Saturday’s sub-regional tournament, with 12 Pirate wrestlers and two alternates qualifying to move on to the next stage of competition.
In total, the Pirates had four first-place finishers, two second places, three third places, three fourth places and two alternates, all of whom will advance to the regional tournament on Saturday to face the final qualifying round before the state tournament.
Leading the way for the Pirates with first-place honors were seniors Sam Chapman and Geran Webb.
Former state title holder Chapman showed himself to be in championship form as he scored a first period 16-1 technical fall in the semi-final round and an 8-0 major decision in the finals at 112 pounds.
Webb proved himself equally deadly — neither of his two matches at 215 pounds extended past the first period. Webb was awarded a pin at 1:05 in the semi-final round, and then got a pin in the finals after only 27 seconds.
Dominik Stemer and Elliot Ellingsen both won second place at sub-regionals. Head Coach Anders Blomgren said Stemer had superior mat presence and took an opportunistic approach during his 3-0 semifinal round win. Stemer lost 13-1 in the finals to Orting’s highly regarded Brady Maris.
Pirate sophomore Ellingsen fared well with a major decision and a 6-4 come-from-behind decision. Wrestling in his first tournament finals, Ellingsen was pinned by Port Townsend’s Brett Johnson, a wrestler whom many expect will win the 160-pound 1A state title this year.
Pirates Maximo Mandl, Robert Easton and Vince Jovanovich all earned third place with pins in the consolation round. Graeme Britz, Tucker Lazare and Anthony Sawyer finished fourth to advance, and Kevin Thomas and Sjors Steneker placed fifth and will serve as alternates to regionals. Aaron Bomber and Cole Devereau finished sixth in their eight-man brackets and did not advance.
Vashon hosted teams from Orting, Port Townsend, Chim-acum and Cascade Christian in the boys’ Nisqually League 1A sub-regionals. The Pirate team took second place overall with 168 points, behind Orting with 419.5.
There was a separate girls’ wrestling tournament in Eatonville featuring almost two dozen schools at which Madeleine Wolczko and Iris Spring each took first place. In girls’ wrestling the girls battle opponents who are in their weight class from any size school.
Pirate junior Wolczko is the fifth-ranked 119-pound girl wrestler in the state, and she dominated her opposition with two quick pins and a 13-2 major decision in the finals. Adding to her reputation, last week Wolczko was selected as a WIAA/Seattle Times 1A Athlete of the Week.
Spring landed a pin and an 8-2 decision to solidify her position as the eighth-ranked 125-pound girl wrestler. These two first places secured a fourth-place team finish for the Vashon girls’ team. Both Wolczko and Spring now advance to the girls’ regional tournament.
Blomgren said he was pleased with how both the Pirate boys’ and girls’ grapplers “were embracing the experience of post-season competition and were not intimidated by even the top-ranked wrestlers.”
To prepare for regionals, Blomgren will continue to have short but fast-paced practices alternating intense wrestling drills with wind sprints.
According to Blomgren, one of the keys to the Pirates’ success is that the athletes never find themselves under-conditioned during a match.
On Saturday, the Vashon wrestling boys’ team travels to its regional tournament at Bellevue Christian, while the girls’ team travels to Emerald Ridge.
— Marian Easton is the mother of wrestler Robert Easton.