Montesano finally got all its wrestlers at one location at the same time and the results were nothing less than spectacular.
The Bulldogs almost doubled the point total of their nearest competition en route to the title Saturday at the Class 1A Evergreen Conference tournament in Forks. Montesano took first with 426.5 points; Forks Spartans took second with 256 points; followed by the Tenino Beavers, 179.5; the Hoquiam Grizzlies, 149.5; and Elma Eagles, 99.5 points.
The Bulldogs wrestled their way to eight individual championships. They scored an additional five seconds, three thirds and four fourths in the fourteen weight classes contested.
Bulldog finalists included; 106 pounds, Jacob Salstrom took first; 113 pounds, Konnor Odekirk, first; 120 pounds, Cole Ekerson, first, and Aaron Lano, second; 145 pounds, Ty Ekerson, first; 138 pounds, Lucas Salstrom, second; 152 pounds, Isaac Pierce, first; 160 pounds, Isaiah Pierce, first, and Brandon Kroeger, second; 182 pounds, Brent Hollatz, first, and Mateo Sanchez, second; 220 pounds, Stephen Rademacher, second; and 285 pounds, Kenny Koonrad, first.
Despite their achievements so far this season, the Bulldog wrestling team is dominated by underclassmen.
Of Montesano’s thirteen finalists, only two; Aaron Lano and Brent Hollatz, are seniors. In fact, eight of Monte’s thirteen finalists are ninth- and 10th-graders.
In addition to the finalists, several other members of the team contributed to the Bulldog’s winning effort. Freshman Sean Ryker placed third at 106 pounds; freshman Jesse Hollatz, third at 113 pounds; junior Cooper Johansson, third at 126 pounds; freshman Kaleb Ames, fourth at 132 pounds; junior Jared Whisenhunt, fourth at 145 pounds; junior Malachi Osbekoff, fourth at 152 pounds; senior Agui Arreguin, fourth at 170 pounds; sophomore Alex Delgado, third at 195 pounds; and freshman Jesse Cervantes fourth at 285. Junior Colby Jones was fifth at 195 pounds.
Lumped together, the contribution by Monte’s third, fourth and fifth place finishers provided more than 25 percent of the Bulldogs final 426.5 point total.
“Despite our youth, we have great depth this season,” coach Jeff Klinger said. “We entered 25 wrestlers in the tournament at Forks and 22 (plus one alternate) are moving on to the subregional tournament. We are very proud of all 25 of our entrants.”
Capping off the team’s dominant performance, Klinger was unanimously selected as Evergreen League Coach of the Year.
In addition to Klinger, assistant coach Jeff Catterlin was nominated as league assistant coach of the year; assistant coach Darrel White was selected as the league’s middle school Coach of the Year; and 145-pounder Ty Ekerson was nominated as the league’s Wrestler off the Year.
Klinger praised his coaching staff and team but had particularly high praise for Ekerson.
“Ty is a real leader on our team. He is dedicated, hard working and entirely focused upon both improving himself and setting a good example of what a Bulldog wrestler should be.”
BLUE COLLAR BULLDOG
Ekerson is currently ranked No. 1 in the state (by washingtonwrestlingreport.net) at 145 pounds and was recently selected by his coaches as the team’s first ever Blue Color Bulldog.
As the initial recipient of this designation, Ekerson was presented with a gray workout shirt with a blue collar and he will now have a vote in the selection of future Blue Collar award winners. To win the award a wrestler must receive the unanimous vote of the entire coaching staff and previous award winners.
According to Klinger, there are several other athletes on the team who have been nominated and are being considered.
“It is an elite designation and the honor comes with additional responsibility as well, it is not something we take lightly as a staff or team,” he said.
Ekerson and his Bulldog teammates will now move on to the regional tournament to battle with representatives from southwest Washington’s TRICO League for the opportunity to wrestle at Mat Classic on Feb. 22 and 23 in the Tacoma Dome.
This weekend’s tournament will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hoquiam High School