This season has had its struggles for Kalama and Ilwaco’s wrestling team. But they’re both peaking at the right time.
Ilwaco finished second and Kalama fourth at Saturday’s Class B Region I wrestling tournament in Kalama.
The Fishermen qualified 11 wrestlers to Friday’s Mat Classic and finished with 159 points, while Kalama qualified six wrestlers and finished with 107 points. Adna won the event with 169 points.
For Ilwaco, the season has had its ups and downs off the mat, but coach Kevin McNulty was pleased with a young group stepping up to the plate on Saturday.
“We did about as well as we could have hoped for,” the hall of fame coach said. “You want them all to finish first, but that’s not a reality.”
Joe Thompson (120 pounds) was the Fishermen’s lone regional champion, after he earned a technical fall in the finals. But Ilwaco also saw second-place finishes from Ghannon Whelden (126), Allen Chetwood (138) and Cahlabe Whelden (285).
Joining them next Friday in Tacoma will be Cody Huff (106, fourth), Keegan Kemmer (113, third), Royce Murry (145, fourth), Brandon Duke (152, fifth), Greg Petit (160, fifth), Marcus Connor (195, fourth) and Bryan Sparks (285, fourth).
The Fishermen are seeking a repeat of a state trophy, after earning the school’s first last year.
For Kalama, the struggles stemmed from success. The football team’s state championship in the fall put wrestlers on the mats two weeks late, and even then, several weren’t quite ready to put Kalama’s second state title behind them.
“It’s just been a weird year,” Kalama coach Jarred Staup said. “I didn’t expect football to play such a big impact. They’re finally starting to come together.”
Among those football players was running back Eli Haynes, whose game-winning touchdown run put the junior in a haze for the first part of the season.
“I was kind of lazy this year,” Haynes admitted.
But that was wiped clean when he defeated fellow running back, Toledo’s Ethan Buck 5-3 to earn a state bid.
“I wrestled him twice last week, and he beat me both times,” Haynes said. “He’s a great athlete, so this is super exciting. I worked harder all week than I have all year.”
He will be joined by plenty of Chinooks, who capitalized on the regionals being a home meet.
“It’s been awesome. Being at home really helped us,” Staup said.
Ethan Hoggatt (113) won a regional title, with a second-round pin, as did Jack Spiess, who earned a third-round pin. Sutton Moon (220) and Colby Hutchinson (160) finished second.
Bradon Thompson (138) will also head to next week’s Mat Classic.
Trey Rego (132) and Michael Echtle (220) were Toledo’s qualifiers, while Joshua Cureton (106), Dusty Thayer (113), Samuel Howsden (113) and Cody Deguise (132) qualified for Winlock.