Sequim grapplers qualify for nationals

The competition only gets tougher from here.

Joe Hutchison and Ethan Hinton - both Sequim High School grads, wrestling teammates and multi-

season state tournament qualifiers - are taking slightly different paths to one of the premier wrestling meets in the country.

Hutchison competes in the freestyle division while Hinton competes in the Greco-Roman classification at the ASICS/Vaughan Junior & Cadet National Championships, set for July 17-25 in Fargo, N.D., after the two qualified for the event at tournaments earlier this year.

Hutchison said he got a great draw when he battled to a second-place finish in the junior 140-pound weight class at a nationals qualifier in Auburn this May.

"Sometimes you'll get guys who are just training and getting better at wrestling (but sometimes) you can get every good guy from all different school sizes," Hutchison said. "You get some tough draws."

Unlike Washington's state high school meets, where wrestlers compete with other wrestlers from schools of similar enrollment size, the freestyle and Greco-Roman tourney junior divisions are open to all wrestlers from any state school.

Hutchison went 4-0 with two pins in the round-robin section and took a 2-1 win in the first round against Tyler King of Auburn-Mountainview in the championship match before King rebounded for 5-3 and 5-0 wins in the second and third rounds.

Hinton had a much tougher draw, Hutchison said, having to go up against the likes of three-time state champion Reid Chivers of Bellingham, state freestyle champion Mitch Steed of Emerald Ridge and 2009 state 2A runner-up Cameron Smith of River Ridge at the Tom Shaw Memorial Northwest Cadet & Junior Regional Championships in Battle Ground in March.

Hinton won a 5-1, 4-0 decision against Steed in the consolation final for third place - the final berth for nationals.

Greco-Roman-style wrestling does not allow grapplers any attacks below the waist. Throws are encouraged, since wrestlers cannot avoid being thrown by simply hooking or grabbing an opponent's leg. This style of wrestling sees a lot more upper-body locks.

Freestyle wrestling features throws as well but allows for lower-body attacks. The goal, Hutchison explains, is simply to get an opponent's back to the mat. Points are awarded for exposing an opponent's back to the mat without a pin, such as a grappler getting into a bridge position to avoid being pinned.

Pins end a match but wrestlers win by points. Unlike collegiate or high school wrestling, which accumulates a score throughout a match, freestyle matches go to 0-0 at the beginning of each round. If one wrestler wins the first two rounds by points (4-2, 5-1 for example) they do not have to wrestle a third round.

"I like collegiate (style) because it's kind of like a chess match; it's all about strategy," Hutchison said. "But I also like the freedom of freestyle."

Hinton and Hutchison got help from Rich Hay, Sequim Middle School coach and former high school head coach.

"I knew he had a good background in freestyle," Hutchison said. "I asked him for help and he offered."

The national tourney in Fargo, touted as the world's biggest for youth wrestlers, is a double-elimination tourney.

Hutchison's berth is doubly sweet for him; he lost a chance at nationals last year by one point in the third-place/fourth-place match.

This year, Hutchison said he's simply hoping to get a win or two at the national event.

He and Hinton are bound to grapple on the same mats soon again after the national tourney: the pair are headed to Ashland, Ore., next fall to attend Southern Oregon University. It's home to the SOU Raiders, the NAIA-NWCA Wrestling National Dual Meet Championship winners from the 2008-2009 season.

The duo signed letters of intent in lkate June on a visit to the SOU campus.

As seniors at Sequim High, Hutchison (135 pounds) and Hinton (189) both took seventh place at the class 2A state tournament in Tacoma, both going 3-2.

In 2008, Hutchison placed sixth in the 135-pound weight class while Hinton was eighth at 189 pounds.

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