Small numbers to start the season didn’t equate to less effort for Sequim’s wrestling squad to start the postseason.
Last weekend was a return to form for some and a new experience for others as eight Wolves wrestlers and two alternates earned regional tournament berths.
Jamie Schroepfer (132 pounds), Ben Newell (145), Chris Puksta (152), Logan Laxson (170) and Noah Eveland (285) travel to North Mason High School in Belfair on Feb. 10 for the Region 2 tournament, while Kiara Pierson (135), Aleah Chen (155) and Madison Uranga (190) head to regionals at Decatur High School in Federal Way on Feb. 9 and 10.
The top four wrestlers at regionals qualify to compete at the state MatClassic the following weekend at the Tacoma Dome.
Both Laxson and Eveland will have pigtail matches against the South Puget Sound League’s fifth-place finishers to have one chance to enter the regional tournament.
Sequim’s Garrett Harris, 138 pounds, and Megan Puksta, 130, serve as alternates, with Harris finishing fifth and Puksta seventh at sub-regionals last weekend.
Sequim coach Bill Schroepfer said that with such a young team — about half of them freshmen — they did well.
“There were a few matches that could have gone either way that could have sent a few boys and girls along (to regionals),” he said.
Taking the top spot
Pierson once again went up against big expectations and top talent to win her weight class at sub-regionals at Auburn’s Thomas Jefferson High School on Feb. 2-3.
She finished third at last year’s state MatClassic at 120 pounds, but moved up this season to 135 pounds with more muscle and experience. She looked ready for a deep postseason run after sweeping sub-regionals with three consecutive pins.
Pierson opened with a 30-second pin over Seana Rhamy of Orting followed by a 1:34 pin over Port Townsend’s Kalista Hill. In the finals, she took down familiar foe, North Kitsap’s Hannah Johnson, winning in the last seconds of the first round (1:57).
“She walked through the tournament,” Schroepfer said of Pierson. “(This coming weekend) will be a little different.”
However, looking at winners from the next region, he said Pierson has faced and beaten a few of the top tier wrestlers there and she has a strong chance to qualify again for state.
At regionals, Pierson is joined by Chen, a freshman, who opened last weekend’s tournament with a pin over Yelm’s Dasha Burnett in 1:16. Following a loss by pin to Bremerton’s Cy’nari Green, Chen recovered to pin Bremerton’s Dayonna Hall in 15 seconds. In the match-up for third place, she lost by pin in 1:47 to Yelm’s Tayleen Reach.
“For the last month of the season, she turned a corner and really competed hard,” Schroepfer said.
Uranga returns to regionals with Pierson, earning a fifth-place finish at sub-regionals by going 2-2.
Uranga lost her first round match by pin to Eatonville’s Madison Jumper but pinned Yelm’s Laurel Bradford in 3:12. Despite losing in the consolation bracket by pin to Orting’s Savannah Hand, Uranga finished with a 1:24 pin over Evergreen’s Jasmine Fisher.
Megan Puksta finished sub-regionals 3-2 including pins in the consolation bracket of Naomi Armas of North Thurston in 36 seconds and Alma Morales of Auburn in 1:29. She earned an alternate spot pinning Evergreen’s Addison Willanger in 2:53.
Three more Wolves earned one win each at sub-regionals, too. Amara Sayer (120 pounds) went 1-2 with a pin of Shelton’s Miracle Horne in 4:35, Alexi Rampp-Taft (125) pinned Melissa Rodriguez of Shelton in 59 seconds, and Emily Dodson (125) pinned Shelton’s Allison Christensen in 41 seconds in the consolation bracket.
On the homefront
Sequim hosted the Olympic region’s 2A sub-regional tournament on Feb. 3, and three boys finished third to earn returning spots to regionals.
Jamie Schroepfer, 132, pinned his first opponent Nate Harrelson of Port Angeles in 32 seconds but lost his next match to weight class champion Luis Clemen of Bremerton by pin in 1:15. However, Schroepfer pinned his next two opponents, including teammate Jacob Pyeatt in 33 seconds and Ken Galsgaard of North Kitsap in 1:38, for third place.
Pyeatt saw some success of his own, though, going 3-2 on the day. He won the first round by pin over Chris Lane of Bremerton in 1:44. He lost to Galsgaard next but won his next two matches, the first by pin and the second by injury default before facing Schroepfer.
At 145 pounds, Newell won his first match less than a minute in after Olympic’s Jonathon Beaulieu was injured. He lost his next match 5-1 to Bremerton’s Ryan Savior but pinned his next opponents — Grant Abrams of Port Angeles in 40 seconds and Jacob Diehl of North Kitsap in 42 seconds — for third place.
In the 152-pound weight division, Sequim’s Chris Puksta pinned Taylor Andrews of Olympic in 4:33 in the first round. Puksta lost his next match-up to weight class champion Zach Steun by pin at 5:15. Puksta took his next matches — 3-2 over Anton Baur of North Mason and 11-6 over Andrews again — for third place.
Freshman Logan Laxson went 2-2 at 170 pounds first winning by injury default over Port Angeles’ Derick Dunaway and by pinning Pascual Victoriano of North Mason in 3:50 in the consolation bracket before being pinned in the third place match-up by North Kitsap’s Noah Cameron in 3:39.
Sequim’s Eveland, also a freshman, earned a regional spot for the Wolves with only four wrestlers competing at 285 pounds. He went 0-2 and lost both matches by pin.
Senior and first-year wrestler Garrett Harris earned an alternate spot to regionals at 138 pounds, going 1-2 on the day. He opened sub-regionals by pinning Jimmy Burch of North Mason in the last second of the second round. He lost his next matches to Cole Fox of North Kitsap by pin in 1:18 and and 18-8 to Ivan Miraflor of Bremerton. For fifth place, he defeated Burch again.
At sub-regionals, Sequim’s Zach Koch, 145, won one match on the day too opening with a pin in 2:29 over Adrian Cleaver of North Kitsap. He lost to Glenn Moe of Olympic, the weight class champion by pin in 3:44 and 7-0 to Gabe Morton of North Mason.
Bill Schroepfer said for Sequim’s boys to advance to state they’ll “have to bring their A-games.”
He said Chris Puksta looks to have the toughest weight class among the boy competitors.