7 Vashon wrestlers head to state

Sam Chapman, top, wrestles in the Regionals 112-pound finals on his way to defeating Orting’s Dillon Stiles 11-4. - Kevin Britz photo
Sam Chapman, top, wrestles in the Regionals 112-pound finals on his way to defeating Orting’s Dillon Stiles 11-4.
— image credit: Kevin Britz photo

Seven Pirate wrestlers qualified for the Mat Classic State Tournament by competing in the Regionals last Saturday. First-time attendees Vince Jovanovich, Elliot Ellingsen and Dominik Stemer will join veterans Madeleine Wolczko, Iris Spring, Geran Webb and Sam Chapman at the Tacoma Dome this weekend.

“I’m pleased with the overall performance of the team and excited for the matches this weekend,” said Assistant Coach Per-Lars Blomgren. But for each of these Pirate wrestlers, the path to the state tourney was paved with hard work and dedication.

For the majority of the season, second-year wrestler Jovanovich could not compete because of school administrative restrictions. In fact, he became eligible to wrestle only two weeks before Regionals. To secure a spot at state, Jovanovich had to battle Orting’s Matt King, a 285-pound wrestler who soundly had beaten Jovanovich the week before at Sub-Regionals. The Vashon coaches anticipated this rematch and had “developed a custom-tailored approach to thwart King’s game plan,” Blomgren said. Using this approach, Jovanovich won 6-4 to take third and the right to advance to state.

Wolczko also had to play catch-up this season. She missed the first two months of practice and matches because of a lingering illness. Wolczko, a two-time state placewinner, rejoined the Vashon team just four weeks ago, but “is back in top form and ready for the state tourney,” said girls’ coach B.J. Nelson. She took third at Regionals, with her only loss coming in overtime to the eventual champion at 119 pounds.

Just recently, Ellingsen became ranked as one of the top 10 1A wrestlers at 160 pounds. He took second place at Regionals with a pin at 1:26, a decision and a loss in the finals. Many opponents have tried but cannot overcome his “deliberate, yet unique, style of wrestling that is perfectly suited for his body type,” Blomgren said.

Stemer earned second place and his first trip to the state tourney with a pin, a decision and a loss in the finals at 140 pounds. Blomgren credited Stemer’s work ethic as a primary factor in the grappler’s achievement.

Webb finished in first place at 215 pounds and will make his third appearance at state, after previously having placed fourth and eighth. Webb exudes the cool confidence of a champion. While acknowledging his tough matches ahead, Webb predicted that his “extensive after-hours preparation of film study and conditioning will pay off.”

Chapman won the 112-pound weight class at Regionals and advances to his fourth state tourney. In past years, Chapman had placed first, second and seventh. He knows what to expect and has a well-practiced method of “getting prepared physically and not psyched-out mentally” for the intensity of post-season action.

Sophomore Spring won the right to attend her second state tourney with two major decisions and two losses for fourth place. Unlike the boys’ Regionals, the top six girls in each weight class advance from the girls’ Regionals.

Graeme Britz, Robert Easton and Anthony Sawyer finished fifth and will serve as second alternates for the state tourney. Maximo Mandl wrestled at Regionals but did not advance. Tucker Lazare qualified for Regionals but did not wrestle.

Overall, the boys’ team placed third with 113.5 points behind Orting with 389 and Nooksack Valley at 250. The girls’ team finished 14th out of 34 teams.

The state tourney will be held Friday and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

— Marian Easton is the mother of Pirate Robert Easton.

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