Against some of the area’s top wrestling programs at a two-day tournament at Auburn High, Class 2A Orting took home the 2016 calendar year’s final team championship with a first-place finish at the Doc Herren Invitational.
“Ever since the second day of state last year, I’ve been telling the guys we need to finish out strong during these two-day tournaments,” Orting coach Jody Coleman said.
Orting finished in first with 288 points, followed by Curtis (220) and Bonney Lake (213).
The championship matches started with a bang as the Cardinals all but sealed the team title when heavyweight Kenny Marll won the 285-pound title.
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Fighting Curtis senior Calhoun Helmberger to 1-1 stalemate for the first 5 minutes, 57 seconds, Marll avoided a last-ditch takedown attempt by Helmberger and got a takedown of his own for a 3-1 victory.
“Today (Coach Coleman) told us to get up and get after it,” Marll said. “It kind of lit a fire up under our butts.”
Marll was one of six Cardinals to reach the championships matches and one of four to walk away with a title.
“We just put our guys out, and we tell them to just keep wrestling hard,” said Alex Cruz, who won the 126-pound championship with a 7-2 decision over Sumner’s CJ Richmond. “Our heavyweight gets the ball rolling for us, and everyone gets all hyped. He started the momentum, and we kept it going.”
Seconds before the heavyweight round ended on an adjacent mat, the 106-pound final ended in an upset as Curtis freshman Maka Yacapin (ranked No. 2 in 4A according to Washington Wrestling Report) defeated Bonney Lake All-American Brendan Chaowanapibool (ranked No. 1 in 3A) with a 5-1 decision.
“I don’t believe it was an upset,” Yacapin said. “Ever since our trip to Las Vegas, my confidence has grown.”
Bonney Lake’s Brandon Kaylor (No. 1 in 3A) claimed the 113-pound championship with a 9-1 victory over Curtis freshman Ryan Wheeler (No. 5 in 4A).
“I was a little (angry) after that, so I had to pick up the slack,” Kaylor said after witnessing Chaowanapibool’s loss. “I got the major (decision) and held onto it. More team points — nothing wrong with that.”
With two Curtis freshmen having opposite results in the finals, Vikings coach Jasen Baril couldn’t help but be satisfied with his two young wrestlers.
“Maka only has one loss on the year, so that was a good match for him,” Baril said. “That was a good win. Kaylor is tougher than nails over there. He’s ranked in the country, so that was tough for Ryan. But they’re both freshman, which is a great sign for us. Some good young talent.”
Bethel senior Dante Springsteen, the No. 1-ranked 160-pounder in the state, closed out the calendar year perfect by picking up his fifth tournament championship.
In the finals, Springsteen was paired against Orting’s Ben Gore (No. 1 in 2A) in a state championship-level match. Springsteen took control quickly in the first round, building a 3-1 lead.
Springsteen led 6-3 with 34 seconds left in the second period when his shoulder brace stuck to Gore, forcing a brief timeout.
“I don’t know what happened as the strap came off. That’s never happened before as it got stuck to him,” Springsteen said.
The unexpected timeout proved a boon for Springsteen, who cruised to a 11-3 major decision, cementing his No. 1 state ranking.
“This is exactly where I want to be. Exactly,” he said.