By Alex Stemer
For The Beachcomber
After a 28-year hiatus from the top of the podium, history repeated itself this past Saturday, as Vashon Island High School narrowly edged out host team Klahowya Secondary School to claim the top team score at the WIAA 1A Regional Tournament.
Going into the final round trailing by 15 team points, strong showings from regional champions Ethan McIntyre (120 pounds), Jordon Rutschow (160 pounds), Ryan Nelson (170 pounds) and Richard Rivas-Gutierrez (220 pounds) helped to secure the come-from-behind team win. When the last whistle blew, Vashon had earned a total of 197 team points. Second place Klahowya stood at 194.5.
Head Coach Anders Blomgren was thrilled about his team’s achievement in qualifying for the state tournament, set for Feb 21 and 22, at the Tacoma Dome.
“Their commitment is starting to pay dividends, big time, for themselves and our team!” Blomgren said in an email. “We are all super jacked up for our regional championship and nine guys going to state.”
The upcoming tournament, hosted by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, is the largest tournament of the year. Vashon sends a team every year and the school typically registers several individual placers. The last time VHS won regionals, the school went on to place third as a team at state, with two individual champions and several other individual placers.
Many other VHS wrestling team members earned critical team points throughout Saturday’s tournament, including finalist Finn McClure (second place at 170 pounds); George Murphy (third place at 126 pounds); and two fourth-place finishers, Ben Godwin (106 pounds); Sean Ryland (120 pounds); and Alec Macomber-Straight (136 pounds), all of whom qualified for state. Joe Barnes (138 pounds) and Jake Bowden (160 pounds) also placed sixth in the pool of 13 teams.
When asked as to the secret of qualifying for State as a freshman, Godwin explained that “it comes down to guts and believing in yourself.”
Blomgren also said the 2019-20 school year team’s success is a “true testament to our guys and their work ethic and support for each other.”
“They practice with intensity and focus,” Blomgren said, adding, “they truly love and build up their teammates through the high and lows of competition.”
The state tournament is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and 9:45 a.m., respectively, on Friday and Saturday at the Tacoma Dome, 2727 E. D Street. Doors open at 8:45 a.m. both days.
Blomgren and his brother, Per Lars, recently celebrated 20 years of coaching for the VHS wrestling team.