Grapplers striving for the Mat Classic

WRESTLING: Puyallup returns two state champs; other east Pierce programs share optimism

of the HeraldDecember 11, 2013 

Trent Nivala of Puyallup celebrates after he clinched a berth at the Mat Classic state tournament with a victory against Graham Kapowsin’s Alex Boynton at 285 pounds during the Class 4A Region II tournament last February at Auburn High School.

SHAUN SCOTT/HERALD PHOTO

Several wrestlers from east Pierce County advanced to the Mat Classic state tournament last season, and Puyallup’s Matt Voss (220-pound division) and Jordyn Bartelson (118) won championships at the Tacoma Dome. Both will be favorites to repeat this year.

The following is a capsule preview of how each wrestling program will fare this winter:

PUYALLUP VIKINGS

Head coach: Aaron Lee, second year

Last year: Three wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic

Key performers: Matt Voss, 220; Trent Nivala, 285; Joey Meyer, 195; Tristan Cleek, 138; Jordyn Bartelson, 118

Matt Voss went 37-0 as a junior last year and beat Wenatchee’s Kyle Lesmeister 5-2 in the Class 4A state finals. Jordyn Bartelson, a ninth-grader, won the title in the 118-pound girls division.

Both Vikings return this season, and they’ll be joined by Trent Nivala (285) and Joey Meyer (195), also returning state competitors.

Second-year head coach Aaron Lee knows said he’s blessed with a talented roster.

“I have been spoiled to have these returning state wrestlers,” he said. “We have already established a new norm for our expectations at practice. The intensity in the room has been exceptional, and it is definitely giving us an advantage that we, as a team, are capitalizing on. Winning is contagious.”

ROGERS RAMS

Head coach: David Johnston, 14th year

Last year: Four wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic

Key performers: Ruben Hernandez, 106; Yusef Deen-Conteh, 113; Beau Shatto, 120; Troy Wilson, 145; Brandon Brenenstahl, 152; Jovanis Rodriguez, 170; Tevita Feiloakitau, 182.

The Rams placed second in the South Puget Sound League South Division last year. Head coach David Johnston said there are 60 wrestlers on the team, and that gives them more depth than most in the 4A classification.

“The kids and the coaching staff always believe we have a chance to win every dual meet,” Johnston said. “We have a nice mix of veterans and newcomers to the squad this season. We hope to compete each match and believe that we will be wrestling our best toward the end of the season.”

Johnston said the future looks even brighter.

“More than 30 10th-graders have turned out for the team,” he said. “This will help with the future of our team and depth wise. Sophomore Troy Wilson and Ty Wilson will make an immediate impact.”

EMERALD RIDGE JAGUARS

Head coach: Jim Meyerhoff, 14th year

Last year: One wrestler advanced to Mat Classic

Key performers: ShaRaya Quinn, Genesis Pina, Jesus Quintanilla, Cesar Quintanilla, Nolan McBride, Josiah Arnold, Ethan Stutz and Hunter Theofolis.

Jim Meyerhoff, the only wrestling head coach in the history of Emerald Ridge High School, has liked what he’s seen so far.

“This senior group has shown a higher level of intensity in the practice room, and that is helping the other wrestlers learn about competing at the high school level,” Meyerhoff said. “Many of the wrestlers came into the season better prepared than in previous years.”

The Jaguars won’t have many weak spots this season.

“Just like most of the teams in the SPSL South, the middle of our lineup has the most experience,” Meyerhoff said. “We are excited to have some solid upper weights as well. The lower weights are learning more every day.”

Meyerhoff said he expects four to six wrestlers from the boys team to advance to Mat Classic, and two to four girls to reach the state tournament, as well.

SUMNER SPARTANS

Head coach: Matthew Harshman, fourth year

Last year: Four wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic

Key performers: Jake Harmon, 285; Justin Myers, 220; Zach Summers, 195; Tanner Sjoden, 182; Eli Hofto, 182; Jed Schliesman, 160; Josiah Schliesman, 160; Josh Riley, 152; Liam Hagerty, 152; Wyatt James, 145; Hunter Eberhart, 138; Travis Filleau, 132; Tucker Wooding, 132; Tanner Petcovic, 120; Connor Wade, 113.

It’ll be tough to break into the starting lineup for the Sumner Spartans, but head coach Matthew Harshman said that’s a great problem to have.

“We have a team of hard-working wrestlers,” he said. “They keep each other accountable and compete with each other. We will have some tough competition in the room to make the starting lineup.

“We should be solid across the board at all weights,” Harshman added. “We have the most depth and experience in the middle weights.”

When Harshman took over the program four years ago, the team had just gone through a winless season. Now the Spartans are a Class 2A powerhouse, but the coach doesn’t accept the accolades for his team’s success.

“The wrestlers have done all the work,” Harshman said. “They have made all of our programs, camps, practices, fundraisers and other activities into a success. The wrestlers on the team deserve the credit for where this program has gotten to. It is a joy to watch these wrestlers challenge themselves.”

CASCADE CHRISTIAN COUGARS

Head coach: Chris Dicugno, first year

Last year: Two wrestlers advanced to Mat Classic

Key performers: Josh Crager, 132; Damon Davis, 182.

Chris Dicugno, who was an assistant coach at Ballou Junior High School last season, has taken over the Cascade Christian program. He also has experience as an assistant at Auburn Riverside.

“I’m excited to be coaching high school wrestling again,” Dicugno said. “It is a great opportunity to coach at a Christian school. That is where I have always wanted to be.”

Three-time state placer Josh Crager will be back for the Cougars. He won state titles in 2011 and 2012 and finished second last year.

“Josh has a great work ethic and wrestles with excellent technique,” Dicugno said. “He sets a great example for the other wrestlers on the team. I like the way our entire team is practicing right now. They are working hard.”

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