TACOMA - Their motto has been "unfinished business."
On Saturday, Gaylord Stand, Yelm High School’s wrestling coach for 36 years, and his wrestlers finally could celebrate a state championship.
After finishing as the runner-up to Enumclaw the past two years, the Yelm team won its first state wrestling championship. This time, Enumclaw was the runner-up.
“I can’t put it into words,” a beaming Strand said at the Tacoma Dome. “It’s a culmination of 36 years of hard work. Really, I’m so happy for everyone.”
Dylan Hyder won Yelm’s only individual state title Saturday and was one of eight state medalists for the Tornados.
“It’s been a team goal since we placed second the first year,” said Hyder, who became Strand’s 10th state champion. “We didn’t get down on ourselves. We just worked harder.”
It was a special moment for Strand as he lifted the state trophy above his head, surrounding by his cheering team. He’s the coach known for his practical jokes and commitment to wrestling.
“The community support has been fantastic,” he said. “It’s a great place to coach and a great place to teach.”
Strand has the reputation for mixing humor with hard work.
“He’s a good coach,” Hyder said. “We have a good time and we work hard.”
In 1974, Strand, who recently was inducted into the state’s coaching hall of fame, came to Yelm out of Seattle Pacific College, where he was an All-American wrestler.
“I was just so excited to get a job,” he said. “Jobs were tough to get back then. I had no idea I’d stay here this long.”