by MATTHEW NASH
Sequim wrestling appears to be back in postseason shape.
Last Saturday, 11 Wolves qualified for regionals with seven girls qualifying for the competition on Feb. 14 in Yelm and four boys for the tournament in Sedro-Woolley.
It’s the first time since 2009-2010 that Sequim has sent as many wrestlers to regionals.
“I know that we have been a young team for the last two years but I feel we are turning the corner and getting a preview of what these kids will do in the future,” head coach Charles Drabek said. “It is exciting to look forward to as a coaching staff.”
Wrestlers advancing for the girls include — Sophia Cornell, first place at 110 pounds, Kaylee Ditlefsen, first at 140, Aylee Bennett, second at 135, Kiara Pierson, third at 115, Alma Mendoza, third at 125, Savannah Fowler, third at 145, and Andrea Kienholtz, third at 155.
For the boys — Kevyn Ward won first at 152 pounds, Craig Baker, third at 120, Michael Latimer, third at 220, and Jamie Schroepfer, took fourth at 113 pounds.
Both Kiera Phipps (130) and Sven Wiker (145) earned alternate spots placing fifth.
As a team, the girls placed third at Decatur High School at sub-regionals on Feb. 7 with 145 points and coach Bill Schroepfer was named “Coach of the Year” for the sub-region.
The boys placed fifth in Port Angeles High School and earned the “Sportsmanship of the Year” Award.
For the girls, the results were much higher than early season expectations said Schroepfer.
“We figured we had about four who would advance (to regionals),” he said. “But quite a few of these ladies have impressed me over the season and I thought maybe a few more would squeak in but they did way better than I thought.”
Top finishers Cornell (110) and Ditlefsen (140) both won their brackets with two wins each.
Cornell won with an opening pin in 59 seconds and a finals 8-3 win over Ana Sanchez of Federal Way while Ditlefsen pinned both her opponents with the first in one minute and the second in 5:29 over Anna Watson of Kentwood.
“The ladies’ attitudes were to just go up there and win,” Schroepfer said. “If we win, we win. If we lose, we lose. Even the matches they lost they had good attitudes.”
In the consolation bracket, Sequim’s girls went five for five for third- and fifth-place matches, he said.
Bennett (135) pinned her first opponent before her next opponent Isabella Livingston of North Kitsap was disqualified.
“She wrestled really smart and kept her head in the game,” Schroepfer said of Bennett. “She won on technicalities. (Livingston) got kicked out for too many illegal moves.”
Later Bennett pinned Madison Asaro of Olympic before losing to Sara Mozeleski of Kentwood in a late third round pin.
Mendoza (125) won two matches with pins in the first round before losing to first place winner Peyton Reece of Kingston. Mendoza came back to defeat Charity Jesinowski of Port Townsend 1-0 and pin Xochithl Suarez of Kent-Meridian in 4:36.
Schroepfer said Mendoza lost her last two matches to Jesinowski and came out strong against Suarez, whom she lost to twice at last year’s regionals.
Pierson (115) captured a 3-2 win, a 31-second pin and a third-place finals 7-2 win over Joceline Marrufo of Federal Way while Kienholtz (155) opened with a pin before losing and going to the consolation to win with a pin in 2:54 over Riley Zook of Kingston in 2:54 and winning by injury default for third.
Schroepfer said Kienholtz is his most improved wrestler on the year and she goes out there with a good attitude.
Savannah Fowler (145) won by pinning Rachael Marsh of Thomas Jefferson in 3:21 and Phipps (130) won one match to earn the alternate spot.
Except for Cornell, Ditlefsen and Mendoza, the rest of the girls are first year high school wrestlers.
Looking to regionals, Schroepfer said the girls and boys just need to stay focused.
“Our attitudes are great, we just need some fine tuning,” he said.
This year, the Wolves broke a three-year dual-meet losing streak. In that span, Drabek said he’s definitely seen an improvement from last year and at the sub-regionals that “they are about where they expected to be.”
Ward, the boys’ top finisher, won three-in-a-row to claim the 152-pound bracket. He pinned Moufee Borras of Olympic, won in a 7-1 decision over Bremerton’s Tyler Hamlin, and pinned Kingston’s Nick Wolterdorf in 5:42 for first place.
Ward said he faced Wolterdorf at a home meet and was up 12-2 before pinning him.
Drabek said Ward was in control from the beginning and was leading 7-4 before escaping and taking down Wolterdorf for the pin.
“He is looking primed and ready for regionals,” Drabek said.
Baker (120), after winning his first match by pin, lost to first-place finisher Gavin Crain of Port Angeles.
Drabek said Baker stepped up in the consolation and swept his opponents with a 9-4 win over Curan Bradley of Port Angeles and pinning Shane Santos of Olympic in 3:46 for third place.
Despite a migraine headache and blurry vision, Drabek said Baker told him, “I got this, Coach,” prior to his final match.
Latimer (220) lost 3-1 to second-place finisher Connor Lungerberg of North Mason before going to the consolation where Drabek said he came out for a vengeance in his last match. He pinned teammate Eddie Cruz in 3:53 and Tanner Stracener of North Kitsap in 56 seconds for third.
“He feels like he has something to prove and is looking forward to the next step,” Drabek said.
Teammates Ben Newell and Jamie Schroepfer faced off to set up the third/fourth place match-up at 113 pounds. Schroepfer won by pin in 3:58 but lost by pin to Port Angeles’ Cody Anderson for third place.
“As a freshman I believe he has gained valuable experience and showed him that he is able to compete at and win at a higher level,” Drabek said.
Wiker (145) won two matches with a 5-4 decision and with a 55-second pin of Anton Baur of North Mason for fifth place including and an alternates spot.
Nathan Allison (285) won two matches by pin and Grant Pierson (138) and Hunter Davidson (182) both won one match each with Cruz, Davidson, Newell and Allison placing sixth in their brackets.