Spartans put down Catholic Crusaders

Wrestling coach Steve Hohl grimaced when he saw the results of the random draw to determine the opening weight for Friday’s match against visiting Eastside Catholic, a team that – like the Spartans – had easily won its first two Metro League matches.

“We started with two freshmen in a row against older guys,” Hohl said. I figured we’d be down 12-0.”

He was half right.

The score after two matches was 12-0. Except that it favored the Spartans, who went on defeat the Crusaders 48-18.

Angelo Ritualo (140 pounds), the first freshman, easily won his match with a quick takedown, near-fall and pin at one minute and 21 seconds.

Wrestling a junior, fellow freshman Curtis Nelsen (145) fell behind 6-3 at the end of the first period. But he scored 10 points in a wild second period to take a 13-10 lead, then scored a late pin at 5:44.

Jacob Hayashi (152) opened a 5-0 first period lead and then scored a fall at 2:58 for an 18-0 lead.

“The kid Hayashi wrestled was a finalist in the Island Invitational last year, and he just took him apart,” Hohl said.

By this point, the Spartans were on Crus(ader) Control and though they dropped the next match to remove the possibility of a third straight shutout, Brian Cook (171) raced out to a quick 9-2 lead before scoring a fall at 1:11.

Dan Bachen, who normally wrestles at 160, “drank about a quart of water,” Hohl said, to make weight at 171 so he’d be eligible to wrestle up yet another weight at 189 and prevent a Spartan forfeit. Despite giving away at least 20 pounds, he ended the first round tied at 3-3 before falling behind and losing via decision.

Peter Mandell (215) had a virtual clone of Ritualo’s match: takedown, near-fall, pin at 1:25.

Nick McCallum (275) nearly had a fall in the first period but couldn’t quite beat the buzzer. He went on to score a 9-2 decision.

The Crusaders coach then switched his two lightest wrestlers, putting his senior co-captain up a weight at 112, hoping for a pair of pins.

But in perhaps the evening’s most entertaining match, Spartan junior Stevie Devine (103) had a near-fall and was himself nearly pinned in the first round. In the second round, he scored a reversal and takedown, then just beat the buzzer with a fall at 3:58.

That left Alonso Valenzuela to compete against a state tournament competitor at 112. Being taken down with eight seconds remaining in the first round proved decisive, as Valenzuela dropped a narrow 5-3 decision in the evening’s closest match.

Then at 119 pounds, freshman Zach Smith – who appears a virtual lock to become a state tournament wrestler himself as some point in his Spartan career – scored yet another first-period fall, this one at 1:40.

Nick Sturza (130) scored near-falls in each of the first two rounds as he jumped out to 5-2 and 12-4 leads, then held on for a 14-11 win that completed Spartan scoring.

There were no JV matches.

“For somebody to beat us this year, they’re going to have to be pretty solid,” Hohl said.

The team hosted Nathan Hale last night, while Orting, Port Angeles and Port Townsend visit on Friday for a double dual match that begins at 5:30.

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