By Doug Langworthy
For the Beachcomber
In a meet that came down to the final match of the evening, the Vashon Island High School varsity wrestling team lost, 39-36, in a head-to-head wrestling match against rivals Klahowya on Jan. 29 at VHS.
The meet got off to a slow start for the Pirates as they lost the first two matches of the night. Sophomore Caleb Hecht (113 pounds) lost the opening match, being pinned with 13 seconds to go in the first round. Fellow sophomore Sean Ryland, competing in the 120-pound weight class, was up next, losing his match on points, 4-0.
Junior Ethan McIntyre scored the first points of the match for the Pirates with a takedown of his opponent with 16 seconds to go in the first round of his 126-pound match. He went on to win on points, 6-1. After sophomore George Murphy gained points from a forfeit in the 132-pound class, the Pirates’ Alec Macomber-Straight and Max Bringhurst lost two consecutive matches via pin, leaving the Pirates down 21-9 in the team score.
Sophomore Max Patterson (152 pounds) scored the first pin of the night for the Pirates, pinning his opponent with 58 seconds left in the second round of his match. The 160-pound junior Jordon Rutschow was up next for VHS, winning his match on points, 12-0 with a dominant combination of takedowns, reversals and near-falls.
Junior Ryan Nelson, a team captain, gave the Pirates their first team lead of the evening, 24-21, winning his 170-pound class. He scored a technical fall by going up 15 points in the match, winning 18-3.
“I was hopefully going out there to get the pin, which I wanted for the team,” Nelson said.
Junior Finn McClure (182 pounds) was pinned in the first round of his match, and freshman 195-pounder Aidan Green took more points for the Pirates with a forfeit win.
Captain and senior Richard Rivas-Gutierrez (220 pounds) scored a much-needed pin for the Pirates with 1:18 remaining in the second round of his match, putting VHS up 36-27 in the team score. Rivas-Gutierrez, a participant in last year’s Mat Classic XXXI state championship tournament, plans to wrestle at Corban University in Oregon next year.
The senior captain discussed his thoughts on competing in his final home head-to-head meet as a Pirate.
“I’m really sad about it,” Rivas-Gutierrez said. “Being able to come out with these coaches is just a total blessing.”
Sophomore Zander Rutschow (285 pounds) lost his match, being pinned in the third round.
The Pirates were up 36-33 heading into the final match of the evening. In that match, freshman 106-pounder Ben Godwin went up against senior Klahowya Eagle Cameron Johnson, who went deep in the state tournament last year. Godwin held his own against the talented senior for the first two minutes of the match before eventually being pinned with 11 seconds to go in the first round.
Coach Anders Blomgren, in his twentieth year as the Pirates wrestling coach, was proud of his team’s effort in the loss.
“[The meet] could have gone either way. Coming down to the last two matches against a quality team,” Blomgren said. “Our guys put it all on the line … just to see the support that our guys gave to each other at the end for a young team is super fun.”
Up next for the young Pirates team is the district tournament, which VHS will host on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Pirates’ gym. When asked what goals the team had for the tournament, Nelson, Rivas-Gutierrez and Blomgren were unanimous in their number one priority. Nelson said it succinctly: “Beat Klahowya.”