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Knights Set High Goal And Come Very Close To Hitting It

The score speaks for itself. East Valley’s wrestling team ran roughshod over District 7 AA foes by amassing an amazing 385 points.

“That’s got to be something, doesn’t it?” said coach Craig Hanson.

The Knights have qualified 13 wrestlers to the Region IV tournament in Selah this weekend. Eleven reached the district finals.

Seven won championships, two others finished third and three others placed fourth and are alternates to regionals.

“You always set your goals high. Ours was 15,” said Hanson. “We fell two short of that, but it was still very encouraging.”

Now the goal is to qualify eight or more athletes to state against traditionally powerful Mid-Valley League wrestlers.

Last weekend in district, three Knights pinned their way through the competition.

Rusty Ruchert, EV’s No. 1 158-pounder, won all four of his matches by pin, including over teammate Mike Manuel.

“I’ve got to admit, I was counting on Mike to get third,” said Hanson. “The finals? I didn’t know that would happen. He wrestled with a lot of heart.”

In the next final, 168 pounds, Christopher Duncan needed just 4:57 of his allotted 18 minutes in three matches to grab a title.

Quinton Chapman was even quicker, needing just 4:36 for his three pins.

The Knights’ 135-pounder completed a string of four successive championships beginning at 115 pounds.

State veteran Kevin Woolf’s 6-4 finals win to start things was typical of his style, said Hanson.

“He wins close matches, that’s his strength,” said the coach. “It’s perfect for regionals.”

Upset in district last year, Justin Walker won easily until the 122-pound finals where he slipped past West Valley’s two-time state placer Quinn Sharpe, 7-6, for the crown.

“Justin’s just wrestling great,” said Hanson. “If there’s one guy to have in a tough bracket, he’s the guy.”

Joe Adamson survived a one-point semifinal victory to win the 129-pound title with his second pin.

“Joe’s been wrestling fantastic,” said Hanson. “I think he’s a lot more mentally ready.”

Other titlist was 190-pounder Tristan Beeman who won twice by pin and by decision in the finals.

The Knights are securing pledges for pins as a fund-raiser for cancer-stricken WV coach Bill Bauman.

They already have 37 in post-season after winning 60 of 94 district matches.

Finalists were 141-pounder Brad Crockett, who lost the championship by a point, 178-pounder Rob Gillespie, who edged WV’s eventual third-placer Josh Kelp 9-7 in the semifinals, and 101-pound freshman John Sommer.

His frosh teammate, Brad Perry missed the finals, losing 7-5 in overtime after leading 5-1, but took third.

After losing in the first round, 135-pound Jay Campbell, won four straight matches to also finish third.

Although a non-qualifier, 108-pounf Chad Johnson, was EV’s tourney surprise.

“He wrestles jayvee all year, gets to the semis and ends up fourth,” said Hanson.

The loss that kept him from advancing to regionals was to WV qualifier Paul Bain by a single point.

The other Eagle qualifier was Brandon Cromwell, third at 275 pounds.

, DataTimes

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