Gaylord Strand is the only boys wrestling head coach Yelm High School has known since 1975 and never before has there been so much excitement and drama attached to a dual match.
On Thursday, Yelm and South Kitsap clash in a battle for 4A Narrows League supremacy. The story-line sets itself up: Its more than just two unbeatens meeting up at 7 p.m. at Yelm High School to decide the 4A Narrows League champion -- the Tornados very well might be the opponent to snap the Wolves 20-year dual match winning streak against league opponents.
South Kitsap hasn't loss a league dual match since December 1992 against North Thurston. Since then, the winning streak against league opponents has reached 189 consecutive matches.
The pressure might be on South Kitsap to keep the streak alive, but Strand and the Tornados are confident to end it.
This is a big one, Strand said. Its a pretty special occasion.
The hype and vibe of a Yelm-South Kitsap dual began last year when enrollment numbers bumped Yelm up to Class 4A from Class 3A. The match is expected to draw a capacity crowd inside Yelms gymnasium, perhaps the largest crowd since the school last hosted a regional wrestling tournament. The match has so much buzz that its also being broadcast on Comcast Xfinity.
For the most part, Yelm and South Kitsap match up well. While Yelms strength is in the lightweights, led by Darren Harris at 113, South Kitsaps is in the middleweights. The most recent statewide wrestling rankings on Washington Wrestling Report has Yelm with seven wrestlers ranked in Class 4A -- Harris (No. 1, 113 pounds), Victor Munoz (No. 9, 126), Tanner Page (No. 8, 132), Dillon Harris (No. 2, 145), Anthony Allred (No. 5, 170), Holden Miller (No. 15, 195) and Jeffrey Leuth (No. 5, 220). South Kitsap, on the other hand, has five wrestlers ranked -- Joel Sherman (No. 13, 132), Sean Lutovsky (No. 10, 138), Adam Gascoyne (No. 9, 152), Bryce Broome (No. 4, 170) and Damien Medeiros (No. 3, 285).
Strand says the key matchups will include 132 pounds (Page vs. Sherman), 152 (Brandon Rochester vs. Gascoyne), 170 (Allred vs. Broome) and heavyweight (Tristan Glaser vs. Mederios), but was cautious to keep in mind how much momentum, like in other sports, could be a big factor.
If one teams got the momentum, Strand said, It could be all over.
At last weekends South Kitsap tournament, Yelm dominate the field, winning the team title by almost 100 points behind five individual champions, and South Kitsap finished fifth. Perhaps its a sign of things to come when the two teams meet head-to-head tonight.
People think (the streak) is going down, Strand said. Were hoping we can do it.