Winter sports preview: Young Sequim wrestling crew aims for rebuild on mats

Sequim High wrestling

Head coaches: Rich Hay, Erik Wiker

2017-2018 record: 0-7, 0-5 in Olympic League (seventh place); seven wrestlers to regionals, three to state

Returning players: Boys — Noah Eveland (so.), Zachery Koch (so.), Logan Laxson (so.), Jacob Pyeatt (sr.), Amaran Sauliuna (so.). Girls — Madison Uranga (sr.), Aleah Chen (so.), Amara Sayer (so.), Alexi Rampp-Taft (jr.), Emily Dodson (so.), Charlie Briggs (so.), Kaydence Hillard (so.)

Newcomers: Boys — Kobe Applegate (fr.), Murray Bingham (sr.), Sean Craig (fr.), Ben Castle (sr.), David Hales (fr.), Beau Halverson (fr.), Mitchell Horton (so.), Ewen LeRest (fr.), Truman Nestor (so.), Trevin Oakes (so.), Joe Pinell (fr.), Trenton Rocha (so.), Kieran Van Selus (fr.), Mason Webb (n/a), Jace Williams (fr.), Blake Welch (so.), Seth Wilson (jr.), Kenneth Wolfley (fr.). Girls — Petra Bernsten (fr.), Bailey Cauffman (sr.), Jordan Hawkins (fr.), Jordan Hegtvedt (fr.), Skye Henning (so.), Brooke Hodges (so.), Teagan Hogue (fr.), Lilly Janis (fr.), Kailyn Lopez (so.), Lilly Peterson (fr.), Marley Reeder (fr.), Lauren Sundin (fr.), Rhylee Wheeler (fr.), Emma Wyant (fr.).

Sequim co-coaches Rich Hay and Erik Wiker know they have their work cut out for them as they prep this year’s SHS wrestling squad for tournament and league competition.

Hay and Wiker, who have shared coaching responsibilities at Sequim Middle School for years, are back on the mats this winter to oversee a program that is growing in numbers but well short on experience.

This year’s crew lost its most experienced grapplers to graduation — including state qualifiers Ben Newell and Jamie Schroepfer and regional qualifier Chris Puksta for the boys, plus Olympic League co-MVP Kiara Pierson on the girls’ side — and those who do return are mostly sophomores.

“We are very young, very inexperienced,” said Hay, an assistant for Steve Chinn for several years and one-time (1991-1992) varsity coach.

“We (coaches) are all committed to do a big rebuild.”

The Wolves return just 12 wrestlers on their 44-athlete roster, with 19 incoming freshmen and 17 sophomores in the group.

Back are regional qualifiers Logan Laxson and Noah Eveland, both sophomores, to lead the Sequim boys.

“Even our returners are young,” Wiker noted.

But the strength of this year’s team may be with the SHS girls who see more than a half-dozen grapplers return to the mats. That includes senior Madison Uranga and sophomore Aleah Chen, who both qualified for regionals last season. Chen went 15-12 last season.

Also back on the girls side are Amara Sayer (15 wins in 2017-2018), Emily Dodson (12 wins), Kaydence Hillard (nine wins) and Alexi Rampp-Taft (seven wins).

“We’ve got a good group of kids,” Hay said.

The Wolves open the season on Nov. 28 at Port Angeles’ Wrestle-rama before traveling to Chief Sealth’s Return of the Seahawk tournament in Seattle on Dec. 1.

“That should be a good test for us,” Hay said of the 27-team Seahawk tournament.

Sequim is at Bremerton on Dec. 4 for the Wolves’ first league dual meet and at a tourney in Fife on Dec. 8 before their first home match, a Dec. 13 league meet against North Kitsap.

Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma works for a pin late against North Mason’s Josh Raymond in the 185-pound weight division at the All-Comers prep wrestling tournament in Sequim during the 2017-2018 season. Sauiluma is one of just five returning boys wrestlers for the Wolves. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma works for a pin late against North Mason’s Josh Raymond in the 185-pound weight division at the All-Comers prep wrestling tournament in Sequim during the 2017-2018 season. Sauiluma is one of just five returning boys wrestlers for the Wolves. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

Above, Sequim’s Jacob Pyeatt closes in on a first-round pin of Bremerton’s Chris Lane in the All-Comers tournament in January. Pyeatt is the lone returning upperclassman for the SHS boys’ wrestling program this season. Right, Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma works for a pin late against North Mason’s Josh Raymond in the 185-pound weight division at the All-Comers prep wrestling tournament in Sequim during the 2017-2018 season. Sauiluma is one of just five returning boys wrestlers for the Wolves. Sequim Gazette file photos by Michael Dashiell

Above, Sequim’s Jacob Pyeatt closes in on a first-round pin of Bremerton’s Chris Lane in the All-Comers tournament in January. Pyeatt is the lone returning upperclassman for the SHS boys’ wrestling program this season. Right, Sequim’s Amaran Sauiluma works for a pin late against North Mason’s Josh Raymond in the 185-pound weight division at the All-Comers prep wrestling tournament in Sequim during the 2017-2018 season. Sauiluma is one of just five returning boys wrestlers for the Wolves. Sequim Gazette file photos by Michael Dashiell

Sequim’s Amara Sayer avoids a takedown by Klahowya’s Hannah Bumbalough in a December 2017 league meet. Sayer is one of the Wolves’ more experienced returning grapplers this season after amassing 15 wins in 2017-2018.

Sequim’s Amara Sayer avoids a takedown by Klahowya’s Hannah Bumbalough in a December 2017 league meet. Sayer is one of the Wolves’ more experienced returning grapplers this season after amassing 15 wins in 2017-2018.

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