For wrestlers, third time’s a charm

What a difference a day makes, Spartan wrestling coach Steve Hohl said, after the squad did better than expected in Saturday’s Highline Team Tournament.

“The kids wrestled with technique and passion,” Hohl said, saying those qualities had been lacking in Friday’s double dual meet as Bainbridge dropped two decisions, 33-45 to Orting and 36-40 to Port Townsend.

The Spartans began action Saturday morning against top-seeded Capital. With only a pin by Zach Smith (119 pounds) and a decision by Angelo Ritualo – who dropped two weights to wrestle at 130 – in the first seven matches, Bainbridge trailed 24-9. But Billy Thomas (145) and Jacob Hayashi scored lightning-fast first-round pins, then a match later Dan Bachen (171) had a fall less than a minute into the first round. Peter Mandell (189) and Seth Paradox (215) won by forfeit in a 39-34 Spartan victory.

The second-round match against highly regarded Sumner was a different story.

Though Steve Devine (103) and Smith both won decisions for an early 7-6 Bainbridge lead, Sumner ran off eight wins in a row to go ahead by a commanding 46-7. Mandell won by decision, McCallum won by forfeit and Seth Paradox (275) had a fall at 1:08 to make the final score a somewhat more respectable 46-22.

Facing Vashon in a loser-out match, the Spartans lost 34-33 to the Pirates, who are expected to challenge for the 2A championship this year. After offsetting forfeits, Smith won his third match of the day – an 8-4 decision – then John Michael King scored a fall at 1:17 and Ritualo eked out an 8-7 win to put the Spartans up 18-6. Though Curtis Nelson claimed a forfeit a match later, the Pirates ran off four straight wins to take a 28-24 lead. Mandell won a 9-5 decision and McCallum had a second-round fall, but a Pirate pin at 2:15 sealed their win.

Still, the results were heartening in view of what happened the night before.

Assistant coach Britton Johnson, who directed Friday’s varsity matches, said that “We just weren’t ready to wrestle. We were ahead too many times and lost.”

Both Hohl and Johnson expected an especially tough match against Orting, the fifth place team at the White River Classic in which the Spartans finished 15th.

After Derek Jones gave the Spartans a 6-0 lead with a fall at 3:46, the Spartans dropped the next four matches – three by pin – as the Cardinals took a 21-6 lead.

With team tri-captain Brian Cook (171) out with an injured knee, Orting appeared on the verge of turning the match into a rout with Bachen stepping in for just his second-ever varsity match and giving away nearly 15 pounds. But the Spartan junior overcame initial jitters to dominate the match and score a fall at 3:28.

“I went out expecting the worst,” said Bachen. “I figured the other guy would be pretty good. But when I got control, it was pretty much over from there.”

Both Mandell (189) and McCallum (215) followed with falls less than a minute into their respective matches.

But Carl Webster, forced into service as a heavyweight, gave away at least 60 pounds. He was pinned in the second round as Orting retook the lead.

The teams traded forfeits at 103 and 112, then Orting recorded pins at 119 and 125 to secure the win. Nick Sturza won an overtime 8-6 decision at 130 to end the match.

Against Port Townsend, John-Michael King (125), Angelo Ritualo (140), Chris McKay (160), McCallum and Webster all picked up forfeit wins. But the Redskins continued their tradition of hanging tough despite gaps at several weights, scoring four falls, three decisions by substantial margins and a forfeit of their own.

The lone bright spot for the Spartans was Smith. Stung by a loss against Orting that he felt was a winnable match, he raised his man to shoulder height moments after the match began, threw him to the mat, and quickly worked for the pin.

In JV matches, Roe (125/130) and Thorpe (160/171) won their two matches by falls. Thomas (145/152) won two of three, while Guy (125/130) won one of two. Paradox (189) won his single via technical fall.

The team resumes competition on Friday, Jan. 4 at O’Dea n a match that should determine Metro League’s dual meet champion.

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