At this early stage of the season, East Valley wrestlers are competing on a par with last year’s state championship team.
“It’s about like I predicted,” EV coach Craig Hanson said following last weekend’s championship at the Viking Invitational at Lake Stevens High School. “We’re almost identical to last year.”
Both years the Knights had strong showings at the Tri-State Tournament in Coeur d’Alene.
Last weekend’s win at the Viking Invite was as unexpected as was last year’s victory in the Snohomish Panther Classic over the holidays.
“It was the big (3A) ranking tournament in state,” said Hanson. “Moses Lake, Lake Stevens, Anacortes - everybody was over there. We came through in good shape.”
The Knights scored 207 points to host Lake Stevens’ 164-1/2 and Moses Lake’s 159. The Chiefs in years past had been the state power in a higher classification.
John Sommer upset Moses Lake’s Jaime Garza in a semifinal match and went on to win the title against state placer Robert Ball at 101-pounds.
“He lost to Jaime by a point at Tri-State,” said Hanson. “It was a big win.”
Justin Walker, a late starter because of a shoulder injury, won the 129-pound division with a 15-3 decision.
“He’s only 80 percent of what he’s going to be,” said Hanson. “I see him getting better and better each week.”
Brad Crockett at 141 and Jay Campbell at 135 each placed second. Crockett lost 10-7 to defending state champion Coyte Cooper of Anacortes.
Crockett had won by technical fall, a 15-point advantage, in three minutes over state third placer Golden Baker of Moses Lake. Campbell lost 7-2 to Moses Lake state champion Peter Zamora in his title match.
“Jay wrestled decent against Peter,” said Hanson, “but he was more defensive and fearful. Next time he’ll open up his style more.”
The Knights added fourth places from Chris Dassow at 178 and first-year wrestler Ryan Stengle at 215.
“Ryan is lacking a lot of experience, but he learned more at this tourmament than he has all year,” said Hanson.
Kevin Woolf, 122, and Mike Manuel, 158, placed fifth.
The Knights won without two regulars, Rusty Ruchert and Matt Jolley, who were resting minor injuries.
“I was really pleased with the weekend,” said Hanson.
Local wrestlers meet in Reno
A year ago floods prevented Central Valley wrestler Shane Cunanan from participating at a prestigious tournament in Reno, Nev.
Cunanan made the 2,000-mile trek last weekend with the Bears and wound up facing Sandpoint star Jared Lawrence in the semifinals at 130 pounds.
The two had wrestled in different weights while winning the Tri-State Tournament before Christmas in Coeur d’Alene.
Lawrence, who hasn’t lost in four years, won by a pin in the meeting of unbeatens and went on to the championship.
Cunanan bounced back with a pair of victories to place third.
Central Valley had other wrestlers in the tournament’s top eight and finished 21st overall as a team.
On Wednesday they wrestled Pacific Northwest Classic champion Ferris in a renewal of Greater Spokane League competition. Next Wednesday, CV is at Gonzaga Prep in a match between league champion hopefuls.
PNW Classic placers
There was a reason for the Owen clan to celebrate last weekend’s University High School Pacific Northwest Classic.
Freshman Tommy Owen reached the finals at 101 pounds, one of three wrestlers on uncle Don Owen’s-coached Titans to finish second at the event.
Another uncle, Tim Owen is coach of Ferris’s team champions. The Saxons had two finalists and six others wrestling for third and fourth.
Valley wrestlers winning titles were Chris Montgomery at 115 pounds and Nick Bliss at 158 from Gonzaga Prep.
U-Hi’s Ed Pospisil and T.J. Dowling were the 215 and 275 pound runners-up.
Other local placers were Sean Malone, third for Gonzaga at 135, U-Hi’s Magellan Laurich, fourth at 108, teammate Gordon Bash, fifth at 115 and EV’s Mike Shull, fifth at 158.