In a match against a traditionally strong school, the Kelso boys wrestling team was nervous the bright mat spotlight might illuminate the team’s youth. Instead, it highlighted the focus on technique and skill. While the boys’ roster hosts a majority of freshman and sophomores, the boys weren’t afraid to take on Evergreen’s experienced squad
Kelso toppled the Plainsmen 72-9 Wednesday night at home with a huge crowd as their witness. Some major lifts, slams and takedowns underlined the win for head coach Bobby Freund.
“Our kids wrestled aggressive tonight,” Freund said. “We have got a lot of younger kids, a lot of freshman and sophomores in that lineup. We started seeing some technique come out that we’ve been working on in the room and started transferring to the mat. We’re starting to see their wrestling ability. It’s starting to turn the corner a little bit. It’s nice.”
The match started in the 132-pound category with two Evergreen forfeits to Alijah Guzaman and Hayden Hanson.
The first match Evergreen had a wrestler for was 145 class. Kelso’s Derick Soto (12) took on Clayton Kunz (12) and won by fall.
“It was a good match. I keep my distance and worked my shots in there,” Soto said.
David Palmer (12) wrestled Denny Roa (12) in 152. Roa won, despite the crowd protesting after Roa punched Palmer.
In the 160 class, Kelso’s Joe Carroll (12) took a forfeited win. Shale Webb (11) of Kelso met Brayden Franklin (12) on the mat and won by fall in the 170 category.
“Riding on top and keeping pressure, we’ve hounding on (that) all week. We started to see that pressure come. There was a lot more explosiveness tonight by the kids than what we’ve seen in the past,” Freund said.
Michael Hause (10) paired up with Evergreen’s Jason Pham (11) of Evergreen in 182. Hause took the win by fall. Pavel Kolsky (12) wrestled Tae Deloney (12) in 195 and Kolsky held on for a Kelso win by fall.
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Freshman Brady Phillips had the Kelso team cheering as he downed Evergreen junior Kaleb Largaespada with a fall in the 285 category.
Jared Sanchez (10) and Kalani Nudera (11) spent multiple rounds on the mat in the 106 class. Sanchez put an end to round by taking down Nudera by fall for Kelso.
The key to success with a young team is practice time, Freund said. The boys have to work on nailing the technique.
“So it’s just mat time and experience. That’s starting to come around. We’ve got a ways to go. We’ve got some things to clean up but were getting better and better every week,” Freund said.
Hilander Ethan Freund (9) won his 113-pound match against Jacob Paul (10) by fall and Ashton Ammonds (10) lost at 120 to Evergreen’s Tanner Lachau (12).
Blake West (10) took on Felix Estrada (9) to close out the match and fought for a win by fall to keep Kelso in the lead.
“As a team we did really good. We’re a young team so it was kind of surprising seeing this. But it was nice to see our team is coming together,” Soto said.
One of Kelso’s youngest wrestlers, Dawson Shoddy (9) put on a crowd-cheering, team-shouting, everyone-on-their-feet show. Shoddy took on Evergreen’s Ethan Bardue (9) in the 220 class and made the round look professional as he felled Bardue for the win.
“I was really proud of Dawson Shoddy, who is a freshman. We’ve built him up to 220 and gave him an opportunity and he did a great job for us. There were a number of kids who just did a lot great technique tonight and showcased a lot of things for the fans,” Freudn said.
A big focus for the team is putting on that show for those who come watch. Technique is important, but having fun and showing that to the crowd is a big part, Freund added.
“It one thing we talk about,” Freund said. “People aren’t coming into the gym to watch a boring match. They want to see excitement. They want to see you get after it. We had a number of kids tonight who really stepped up with that.”