Yelm, Lincoln top Narrows wrestling

Contributing writerFebruary 9, 2014 

There was a little bit of confusion among several of the finalists at the Narrows League 4A/3A wrestling championships.

With the finals taking place over three mats, many participants were left wondering where exactly their match would take place.

Lucky for Yelm coach Gaylord Strand, it didn’t matter which mat he ended up at — odds were one of his Tornados would be there as well.

Yelm had 13 wrestlers advance to the finals on the 4A side, winning a meet-best six crowns to secure the overall team title Saturday at Foss High School.

“A busy day,” Strand said, “but a good day.”

The Tornados won going away, finishing with 430.5 points as they had the team championship wrapped up before the finals even got rolling.

The championships in 10 of the first 11 weight classes featured at least one Yelm wrestler. A pair of matches were an all-Tornado final.

“The kids are peaking at the right time,” Strand said. “We had a disappointing dual-meet loss last week to South Kitsap. It actually turned out to be a good thing to lose to them. It really made the kids regain their focus.”

South Kitsap was a distance second, notching 336 points with Central Kitsap (177.5 points) finishing third.

Lincoln successfully defended its 3A league title by registering 362 points. Timberline (268.5) and Shelton (209) finished second and third, respectively.

The top three finishers in the Narrows 4A advance to the regional tournament next week at Central Kitsap, while the top four finishers in the Narrows 3A secure spots at the regional tournament at Bonney Lake.

Yelm will take 17 wrestlers to the regional tournament, the most of any Narrows school.

Sophomore James Page (106 pounds) opened things up for the Tornados by defeating Bellarmine’s Jed Klein, 3-2, in the finals.

Yelm also received individual titles from Darren Harris (120), Jacob Rash (132), Brandon Rochester (152), James Rodeman (160) and Bo Campbell (170).

“It’s the time of the season everyone’s been waiting for,” said Harris, who placed second at the 4A state tournament last year in the 113-pound division.

Harris, a junior, defeated teammate Jacob Nolan by pin (1:31) in the championship, while Rash edged Brian Rochester, 13-11, in the other all-Yelm championship.

“I hate seeing our kids have to face each other,” Strand said. “We have an extremely tough region and they’re out there fighting for seeding, which is very important next week.”

South Kitsap, which held a 3-2 margin over Yelm in head-to-head matches in the finals, got titles from Brandon Forster (126), Adam Lutovsky (145) and Tristan Hartmann (195).

Olympia’s Logan Pine needed overtime to put away Yelm’s Tanner Page, 7-5, in the 4A 138-pound finals. The Bears also won the 220-pound classification with senior Adam Grant pinning Central Kitsap’s Eric Ledesma (5:50).

Lincoln wrestlers captured six 3A weight titles, getting championships from Solomon Sok (126), Marcus Wiley (138), Murad Vagabov (160), Keidrick O’Bannon (170), B.J. Hawthorne (182) and Aliyas Fletcher (195).

Timberline dominated the light weights in the 3A tournament as the first three championship matches comprised only Blazers wrestlers.

Coach Jeff Birbeck elected to have the winners assigned by default in the finals rather than letting the matches take place. Parker Risk (106), Miles Hart (113) and Gage George (120) claimed titles. Nathan Smith (106), Joshua Julagay (113) and Nico Laiuppa (120) finished second.

“We just thought it was healthier to do this than have them out there on the mat,” Birbeck said. “Being a No. 1 or No. 2 seed puts them in a very good spot next week.”

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