Wolves take 12th at tough Blaine 'border battle'

Sequim's wrestlers were facing two storms last weekend in Blaine. One brought snow; the other, more 350 pin-hungry opponents.

All things considered, the Wolves managed to weather both storms well.

Sequim finished 12th out of 27 teams at the Battle at the Border tournament in Blaine Dec. 12-13, putting three grapplers on the medal stand and winning 28 of 53 matches at the well-regarded tourney.

With four of the top five 2A Washington teams from last year's state championship in the gym - plus five state-ranked 3A and 4A teams - the Wolves held up well, Sequim coach Len Borchers said.

"We had a great tournament at Blaine," Borchers said. "This one is tough. It was an early season assessment for our veterans."

In his first action of the season, senior Joe Hutchison showed little rust, topping five of six opponents on his way to a third-place finish at 135 pounds. Hutchison, who finished sixth at the state tourney at the same weight last season, lost just one match in Blaine; in the quarterfinals, after establishing a 3-0 lead against Selah's Robert Espinoza (the eventual tourney champ), Hutchison got thrown to his back for a loss. He rebounded with a 13-2 win against Aaron O'Neill of Mount Vernon and an 11-3 decision against Riverside's13-2 Justin Hodge.

"Joe was spectacular, with several ooh-ahs from the crowd with his quickness and execution," Borchers said.

At 285 pounds, Thomas Gallagher also saw his first action of the season, having to drop more than 30 pounds from his top playing weight in football to qualify for the weight limit. He won six of eight matches in Blaine, all of them by pin, to finish fourth among the heavyweights. After a second-round loss to Blaine's Darrell Price, Gallagher pinned Johnny Kemman of Todd Beamer High School in overtime, then earned four consecutive pins in the consolation bracket. The last of those came in a rematch against Price; after getting pinned by the Borderite in round two, Gallagher pinned Price 14 seconds into the second period of the consolation semifinals.

Ethan Hinton, a state competitor last year, went 5-2 and finished fifth in the 189-pound weight class. He had two pins and topped Lynden's Neils Brisbane 10-5 in a bit of a revenge match - Brisbane beat Hinton at state last season.

Although he didn't place, Sequim's Nick Grinnell racked up four wins in six matches at 130 pounds, two of them by pin. Both of his losses came by just three points.

Taylor Gowdy earned pins in three wins in the 125-pound weight class, two of them coming in about one minute.

Also earning wins for the Wolves were Austin Middleton (112 pounds), Zach Sisco (130), Dakota Hinton (145), Dalton Wilson (152) and David Copeland (171).

"Most of our freshman were in over their heads on this one but they all showed good solid fundamentals and competitiveness - exactly what we hope to see this early in the season," Borchers said.

The host Blaine Borderites, a class 2A school who took second place as a team at state last season, won their own tourney with 191.5 points, followed by the 2A Riverside Rams (Chatteroy) with 170 points and 4A Kentwood Conquerors with 137 points.

The Wolves are back in action on Dec. 18 at home against Port Townsend and Dec. 20 at the Cardinal Classic at Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma.

"This tourney should give us a real boost in confidence when we hit the road for Franklin Pierce," Borchers said.

Eagles win league dual

Talk about a bad streak.

Klahowya earned pins in six consecutive weight classes to edge Sequim 48-30 in an Olympic League showdown Dec. 11.

In fact, 10 of the 14 weight classes were decided by pin; the other four, by forfeit or default.

Ethan Hinton, Grinnell and Middleton were the only Wolves to earn victories on the mat. Grinnell pinned Klahowya's Vernon Vasquez in just 39 seconds while Middleton dropped Donovan Haga late in the first round. Ethan Hinton put Caleb Hiller to the mat with about 40 seconds left in the third round for a pin.

Gowdy won by forfeit and Gallagher won by injury default.

But the Eagles found their groove in the middle weights, winning at weights 135, 140, 145, 152, 160 and 171 by pin, giving them a nearly unbeatable advantage in team scoring.

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