Gaylord Strand has been coaching boys wrestling at Yelm High School since 1975, and he’s never seen so much excitement and drama attached to a dual match.
Today, Yelm and South Kitsap will clash in a battle for Narrows League 4A supremacy. The storyline sets up itself: Two unbeaten teams meet at 7 p.m. at Yelm High to decide the league championship, and the Tornados have a legitimate chance to snap the Wolves’ 20-year dual-match winning streak against league opponents.
South Kitsap hasn’t lost a league dual since December 1992 against North Thurston. Since then, the winning streak has reached 189 matches.
There might be pressure on South Kitsap to keep the streak alive, but Strand and the Tornados are confident they can end it.
“This is a big one,” Strand said. “It’s a pretty special occasion.”
The hype for a Yelm-South Kitsap showdown began last year when enrollment numbers bumped Yelm up to Class 4A from Class 3A. The match is expected
to draw a capacity crowd to Yelm’s gymnasium, perhaps the largest crowd since the school last played host to a regional wrestling tournament.
For the most part, Yelm and South Kitsap match up well. While Yelm’s strength is in the lightweights, led by Darren Harris at 113, South Kitsap dominates the middleweights. The most recent statewide wrestling rankings on washingtonwrestlingreport.com 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 has five ranked wrestlers – 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. Medeiros), but he was quick to point out how much momentum could be a big factor.
“If one team’s got the momentum,” Strand said, “It could be all over.”
At last weekend’s South Kitsap tournament, Yelm dominated the field with five individual champions, winning the team title by almost 100 points, while South Kitsap finished fifth.
“People think (the streak) is going down,” Strand said. “We’re hoping we can do it.”
OLYMPIA FOOTBALL COACH REACHES HALL
Olympia High football coach Bill Beattie will be one of four inducted into the Washington State Football Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame this weekend. The induction ceremony is Saturday at the Holiday Inn in Everett. He’ll be joined by Dave Lutes (Kentwood), John O’Rourke (Columbia River) and Del Tally (Okanogan, Sunnyside, Mark Morris, North Beach).
“It’s quite an honor and a testament (to) the coaches and players I’ve had a chance to work with over the years,” Beattie said. “I was super stunned. I still feel that way.”
Beattie began his coaching career as an assistant at Tenino and Tumwater before landing his first head coaching job at Elma in 1988. He coached the Eagles for seven seasons before taking over at Olympia in 1995. Since 2005, the Bears have won five Narrows League 4A titles.
When Beattie, 53, thinks back on his 31-year coaching career, his family, community members, coaches and players have been the most important. “That’s what the award really reflects,” he said.
BOWLING TEAMS BEGIN POSTSEASON
The winter postseason begins Friday and Saturday with district tournaments for girls bowling.
The Southwest District IV 3A/2A tournament will start at 10 a.m. Friday at Tumwater Lanes. Black Hills, the 2A Evergreen Conference champion, will be looking for its fourth consecutive state berth. The Wolves are led by Alex Putzier, who has a 177 average in 22 matches.
The top three teams and the top six individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to the state tournament, Feb. 1-2 at Narrows Plaza Bowl in Tacoma. Mark Morris (2A) and Kelso (3A) are favored to win the district titles.
Narrows League 3A champion Timberline, Shelton and North Thurston, as well as Yelm in 4A, will compete in the West Central District III tournament, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday at Pacific Bowling Lanes in Tacoma. The top four 4A teams, top four 3A/2A teams and top eight individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to state.
Timberline is a favorite to win the 3A/2A title after being crowned Narrows League 4A/3A champion with a 14-2 record. The Blazers have four bowlers with top-10 averages in league play. Bernadine Dale (167) had the league’s third-best average, followed by Sydney Robertson (fourth, 163), Brooke Collins (tied for sixth, 162) and Jamie Moss (10th, 160). North Thurston’s Cortnie Brathovd had the league’s highest average, 184. Shelton’s Danielle Ewart was second (178). Yelm’s Crystal Ingram had the second-highest average in 4A (165).
ALL-STATE SOCCER TEAMS
Ten girls on South Sound soccer teams earned all-state honors from the state soccer coaches association, including three from 2A EvCo regular-season champion W.F. West.
Representing the Bearcats are Rashelle Fisher (first-team forward), Meghan Ward (honorable-mention forward) and Olivia Erskine (honorable-mention midfield).
Black Hills and Tumwater placed two players each on the all-state team. Representing the Wolves are Arin Seidlitz (first-team midfield) and Whitney Lowe (first-team forward). From the Thunderbirds are Emily Barclift (second-team midfield) and Abbey Bergquist (honorable-mention forward).
In 3A, Timberline defender Ashley Martinez earned honorable mention. In 1A, Rochester forward Camryn Althauser earned first-team honors and midfielder Sierra Seymour was named honorable-mention for the Warriors after leading them to the team’s first state berth.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com www.theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick