By Doug Langworthy
For The Beachcomber
The Vashon Island High School wrestling team hosted the West Central District 3 1A sub-regional wrestling tournament on Feb. 8, coming in second place out of six total teams, with 287 points, narrowly losing to team champions Klahowya, which scored 289.
Following the top two teams were Port Townsend (154 points), Cascade Christian (76), Bellevue Christian (54) and Chimacum (33). As a team, Vashon Island wrestlers scored 16 pins in the tournament, second to Klahowya, which had 20. Four islanders won their weight class.
Senior Richard Rivas-Gutierrez, wrestling his last matches in the VHS gym, won his weight division (220 pounds), scoring two pin victories over his opponents in a combined total time of 44 seconds, scoring 24 of the team’s points.
Coach Anders Blomgren praised Rivas-Gutierrez’s performance this season.
“He’s really been stepping it up since December, I think realizing that this is it for his high school career,” Blomgren said,” and to really lead our team with his work ethic and unparalleled character and kindness.”
Junior Ryan Nelson — recently named Nisqually League Wrestler of the Year — won his division (170 pounds), contributing 23.5 points to the team total. Nelson won his first match with a pin of Sean Jones of Port Townsend at the 1 minute, 14-second mark of the first round. In the final match for his weight class, Nelson scored a technical fall, going up by 15 points in the match, against fellow Pirate Finnegan McClure with 1 minute and seven seconds left in the third round.
Junior Ethan McIntyre won the 120-pound division with two victories over two Klahowya Eagles. McIntyre logged a pin over Kano Clare with 5 seconds to go in his first match and then went on to win the final over Sage Hlebechuk by decision, 7-2. He contributed 22 points to the Pirates total.
Junior Jordan Rutschow (160 pounds) won his weight class and also contributed 22 points to the team total. Rutschow made the most of the one match he had to wrestle, winning over Dylan Chandler of Klahowya by pin 55 seconds into the second round of his match. Rutschow is 18-1 on the year.
He was asked what he is looking forward to at next week’s regional tournament.
“Seeing people that I haven’t seen before in my (high school) wrestling career so far,” Rutschow said. “There’s still a couple people I haven’t met out on the mat, so it’ll be good to feel them out before state.”
Finnegan McClure took second in his weight class (170 pounds), scoring two pins in his first two matches before eventually losing by technical fall to Nelson. Three other Pirates also took 2nd place in their weight classes: Ben Godwin (106 pounds), George Murphy (126 pounds), and Alec Macomber-Straight (132 pounds).
Placing third in their divisions for VHS were Sean Ryland (120 pounds), Max Bringhurst (132 pounds), Joe Barnes (138 pounds), Beren Lord (152 pounds), Jacob Bowden (160 pounds), Aidan Green (195 pounds) and Zander Rutschow (285 pounds).
Blomgren was pleased with his team’s performance and camaraderie.
“Our guys, our team, is probably one of the closest teams we’ve ever had. They just all love each other, we’re all there cheering each other on,” he said.
McIntyre echoed his coach’s thoughts on team cohesion. When asked what stood out most to him about the day and his first-place finish, he did not hesitate.
“All my teammates cheering me on was really fun,” McIntyre said, “and the feeling in here is just amazing.”
Wrestling off-island at the South Puget Sound League 4A Nisqually Girls Championships tournament was Pirate sophomore Kaitlyn Bonaventura, who took third place in her division. Bonaventura went 3-1 in the tournament, scoring three victories by pin. She won her third-place match by pin 31 seconds into the first round.
Up next for those Pirates that qualified (top four places in each weight class) is the Region 1 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Klahowya Secondary School.