TACOMA — Brian Rochester had plenty of experiences to choose from when asked what’s been most memorable about his freshman wrestling season at Yelm High School.
One would think topping the list would be the Tornados snapping South Kitsap’s legendary 189-dual match winning streak en route to winning the Narrows League 4A championship.
Nope. Rochester, needing no time to provide a quick response, went a completely different direction.
“Nose bleeds,” Rochester said. “I’ve had countless nose bleeds this season. It seems like every day in practice, five or six different guys will get a nose bleed. Our practices get intense. Guys are always going at it.”
Yelm’s grueling preparation has resulted in two things – using an abnormal amount of cotton balls during practice and success on the mat.
As expected, the Tornados dominated the Narrows League 4A championships, having at least one wrestler in 11 of the 14 finals, to win the team title Saturday at Foss High.
Yelm, which had six champions, captured the 4A team title with 386.5 points. Lincoln won the Narrows 3A title with 307.5 points
“It all starts at practice,” said Yelm sophomore Darren Harris, who improved his season record to 26-3 by pinning Central Kitsap’s Josh Criollos in 1 minute, 2 seconds to capture the 113-pound championship. “We push each other. The goal is to get as many guys to state.”
Yelm had 17 wrestlers place in the top three to advance to the 4A regional tournament at Snohomish High School on Saturday.
The top four finishers at each weight class in Narrows 3A secured trips to the regional tournament at Bonney Lake High School.
Yelm coach Gaylord Strand, who was named Narrows 4A coach of the year, plopped down in his seat prior to the 106-pound finals — a championship that featured teammates Jacob Nolan and James Page — and would remain in the same seat for more than 90 minutes as the Tornados had at least one participant in the first nine weight classes.
Nolan (22-8) pinned Page in 5:13.
“I had no idea it was going to be this intense,” said Nolan about his first year as a Yelm wrestler. “It’s at such a higher level than last year at middle school. I came in this year thinking I’d be a JV wrestler.
“Everyone has just been a big help. You get better at practice because every day you’re wrestling against talented guys.”
Rochester defeated teammate Jacob Rash, 10-4, in the 126-pound finals to improve to 14-3 on the season.
The Tornados also received titles from sophomore Tanner Page (132) and seniors Dillon Harris (138) and Anthony Allred (160).
The Abes, who won their first Narrows League tournament title, got championships from Juan Vicente (126) and Keidrick O’Bannon (170).
Timberline, fresh off winning its first league regular-season dual meet championship, edged rival North Thurston, 247-238, to take second place in 3A.
The Blazers sent five wrestlers to the finals – and all came away champions.
“We lost a lot of talented seniors from last year’s squad,” said senior Josh Beam, a three-time state participant who won the 132-pound title. “No one really thought we would be this successful, but everyone has stepped it up this season. We really want to leave our mark on Timberline wrestling this year.”
Beam’s teammate, Stone Hart, the defending 220-pound 3A state champion, remained undefeated on this season (27-0) by defeating Wilson’s Tanner Colburn by technical fall (17-2) in the 220-pound final.
The Blazers also received titles from Nico Laiuppa (113), Gage George (120) and Ethan Metzger (182).
North Thurston had a pair of champions in Michael LaFrenier (145) and 152-pound Marcus Ulloth, who improved to 22-1 this season by pinning Wilson’s Blake Irish.
Additional Narrows 3A champions included Foss’ Jonathan Thomas (138), Mount Tahoma’s Austin Colburn (160) and Wilson’s Jake Ferris (190).
South Kitsap, second in 4A with 260 points, had four champions: Ben Delacy (145), Adam Gascoyne (152), Bryce Broome (170) and Damien Medeiros (285).
Narrows champions Tanner Hartsoch (195) and Jack Hougan (220) helped Olympia finish third in 4A with 147.5 points.
Bellarmine Prep’s Taylor Ladenburg improved his record to 25-0 by defeating Olympia’s Josh Newbill in the 182-pound championship.
Wilson’s Jake Ferris pinned North Thurston’s Jake Grantham (3:05) in the 195-pound final.