LACEY - There was a similar refrain from the majority of the teams participating in Saturday's River Ridge Invitational.
“We’re a young team,” was the common battle cry.
But despite inexperience, there was plenty of hope to go around as local squads got a positive glimpse at their respective futures.
Curtis High School – an established wrestling power and it showed – cruised to a team victory by more than 100 points over second-place North Thurston, 256–153.
The Rams edged the host Hawks of River Ridge (144) by nine for second place. Black Hills edged Capital by a half point for sixth, 721/2-72.
Saturday’s second-place finish was a moral victory for the Rams, who have struggled to fill out their roster since placing second at Tumwater’s Pat Alexander Tournament on Dec. 22.
North Thurston’s Derrick McDannald, who placed second at 135 pounds, said he was proud of the Rams who have stuck it out and saw their hard work pay off Saturday.
“We’ve had a lot of guys not show up for practice the last couple of weeks and we didn’t know who exactly was going to be our varsity guys,” he said. “The guys that kept showing up worked hard, we got organized and we got serious again.”
In addition to McDannald, six Rams placed in the top three in their respective weight classes. Junior Josh Clark was tops among them, finishing second at 152 pounds.
Senior Toby Williams led River Ridge to its third-place finish, winning the heavyweight division with a pin over Clover Park’s Vela Faitalia. Although Williams has wrestled for just two years, he’s a graybeard among Hawks wrestlers.
River Ridge’s youngsters contributed the majority of the remaining points as freshmen Elijah Camacho (second, 145), Jaden Mitchell (third, 140) and Daniel Montesa (third, 125) all had solid showings. Senior Konnor Wayson also did his part by placing second at 215 pounds.
“I was hoping for a little bit better,” said River Ridge coach Greg Ford Jr. “We had a few guys that didn’t show up, a few guys that didn’t make weight, and that hurt us. We’re still improving every tournament as a team, so we’re up and coming.”
Black Hills’ narrow finish ahead of Capital was spearheaded by Mason Adams and Garrison Stamp, who placed second at 112 and 171, respectively.
Capital’s David Griffith shook off some rust and won at 135 pounds. The junior has battled a thumb injury in recent weeks and hasn’t seen the mat much this season. He was happy to be back in action and would have liked even more.
“I was a little annoyed that I started out the day with a bye,” he said. “I was really anxious to get back because I haven’t wrestled nearly as much as I’d like. Overall it was a good day, though. We have a lot of potential, and we were able to show some of that today.”
The Cougars also got second-place finishes from Blake Newport (130) and Scott Wolf (189).