Last Saturday morning, the Wahkiakum Mules men’s wrestling team returned the District tournament Traveling Trophy to the announcer's stand. The team had been its steward since last February and was seeking to extend that period of possession. The Mules brought 12 men, ready for war, at 10 of the 14 weight classes.
Post season wrestling allows teams to enter two scoring wrestlers at each weight class. Wrestlers are seeded according to regular season head to head competition. This creates opportunities and challenges. Mule wrestlers ended up on the same side of the bracket at three weight classes. There are few things more challenging and frustrating then wrestling a team mate in important, advancement matches.
Starting out the team at 126 lbs., Alex Johnson came in seeded second behind Tony Raupp of Winlock. Raupp has been a factor in districts, regional and state wrestling now for three years. However Johnson came into the finals with a game plan in mind and was able to make it stick. After a fast paced match ended in a tie, the two wrestlers came together for an overtime sudden death period; first point wins. With a slick arm drag and fast scramble, Alex was able to unseat Raupp and win his first district championship.
Mason Mackey (138) came into the weekend as defending district champion. In the finals he once again faced Elijah Towery of North Beach. This may have been the 10th time these two have faced each other in the finals over the last two years. Though never an easy battle Mason was able to retain his title and was the second Mule of the night on the top of the podium.
At 170 pounds, Trystan Mendez came into the night as one of two first seeds for the Mules. He proved in very dominant fashion why he deserved that seating. After a first round bye, Trystan was forced to wrestle against team mate Ben Vasion. The team has two standing rules when team mates wrestle: 1) we do not cheer. Our side is to be as silent as the cemetery. 2) you get out there and wrestle as if the other guy was from Adna or Ocosta. No fear. No holding back. This is how each wrestler approached the match. Unfortunately in the mix, on a clean take down Ben received a concussion and was unable to continue. We hope to have him back by Saturday’s regional tournament. This put Trystan in the finals match against Camenzind from Raymond for two minutes and 48 seconds at which time Trystan sealed the deal with a pin.
Mule wrestlers also met at 132 lbs with frustratingly similar results. Jesús Crawford and Luke Stacey came into the tournament with equal criteria and seeding. Crawford (#2) and Stacey (#3) met in the Semi-finals. Half way through the first period Stacey scored a take down by a throw, but in the process Crawford’s shoulder took a hit. After a stoppage for blood time, the referee stopped the match a second time for the shoulder injury. Always the warrior, Crawford wanted to continue, but the coaches and on-site medical team made the call. Crawford was able to injury default to fifth seed, which means he has the opportunity to return this weekend to regionals where, if healed, he has a decent chance of earning his way to state. Stacey went on to take second against Drew Angelos from Ocosta.
At 145 lbs, Brandon Burdick was able to accomplish the upset. Starting the day at number four seed, Brandon got two pins and a major decision to earn third place. His only loss on the day was to the eventual champion, another Camenzind from Raymond. It is this type of dominating performance from each Mule wrestler that earned the necessary team points for victory. Win big! Lose small. Give up nothing.
The fourth Mule in a finals singlet Saturday was Nate Cothren at 152. Cothren came into this tournament on a roll. He has been a major factor in every tournament he has entered on both sides of the state. He displayed again his dominating form with a total 8:45 of wrestling time before the finals. Two pins put him up against a returning state placer, Derek Fruin of Onalaska. This first meeting went to Fruin, but we have expectations of a rematch at regionals with great hopes of different results.
Senior Adam Vasion came into this tournament at its most difficult weight class. All of the top three competitors are able to win tournaments. Adam also ended the day in third with two pins and one loss. His only loss was to the eventual champion, Zach West of Napavine.
Another senior, Junior Ramirez (182) wrestled his best match ever. Ramirez has been continually improving this year, earning wins and fighting further into the matches. In his final match of the day Ramirez was right in the mix and even had his opponent flat on his back several times (although the ref. couldn’t find the right spot to see it!) Ramirez will be traveling with the team to regionals as an alternate.
The final Mule scoring Saturday was heavyweight Dylan Hansen. He had his best outing of the year. First he was able to dominate Helman from Ocosta with a pin 25 seconds into the second period. Then in the finals match, Hansen put in an incredible scrap against Fruh from North Beach. Hansen is short on mat time this year, but is coming on strong and we have high expectations for the week to come.
Reports like this tend to focus on the guys who have risen to the top on a given week. It would be unfair to not also mention though the guys who have come in all year and put in the blood, sweat and tears to help make the team better. These would include Kody Vik, Kyle Stump and Aaron Miranda.
Saturday evening the Mule wrestling team returned the District tournament traveling trophy to its home, here in Wahkiakum. The finals matches almost appeared as a Wahkiakum versus the rest of the district duel, with six Mules in the finals. The final team scores followed the team's performance with Wahkiakum repeating as district champs, winning 166 to 154.5 (Raymond second) and 138.5 (Adna third).
This weekend is the Regional championships at Chief Leschi. Last year the Mules came in second by less than one match. Bringing nine men to wrestle this year, our goals are one step higher.
First year female wrestler Dallas Gott competed in the Ladies district tournament Saturday at Kalama. Dallas has come a long way this season. With there only being one female division for all the lady wrestlers in the state from all school sizes, the competition was stiff. In her second match of the tournament Dallas wrestled two-time defending state champion Rachel Archer of Winlock. Because of the daily match limit of five matches, Dallas's competition ended up running until Monday evening. In the end, Dallas earned sixth place out of 11 wrestlers. She was one win away from being an alternate to regionals, a remarkable feat for a first year wrestler.