Monte grapplers reach goals, look forward to next season

Goal-setting is an integral part of every legitimate athletic endeavor. Any successful high school coach will tell you that goal-setting focuses the vision, guides the effort and stimulates the growth of their athletes and team. They will also assure you that when those goals are pursued with enthusiasm, dedication and commitment, that results are always positive.

The goal that Montesano coach Jeff Klinger, his staff and team set this season was to improve upon their 8th place performance from a year ago by finishing in the top four at the State Tournament.

Now that the season has ended, it is crystal clear that Klinger’s team has accomplished exactly what they set out to do.

In a Class 1A tournament that was dominated by two eastern Washington league rivals and wrestling powers, Granger and Zillah, the Bulldogs battled their way to third place and achieved their goal and brought home a trophy!

The battle for 3rd was a pitched one during the two day event as Montesano vied with Connell, Lakeside, Royal City, Deer Park, Granite Falls, Colville for the coveted positions. For nearly two full days Montesano’s fortunes swung between 2nd and 8th place before the inspired Bulldogs used the final round to pull away for good, winning five of their final six matches in the last round of wrestling on Saturday.

Despite some disappointing semifinal losses and a few other setbacks, Montesano’s Jacob Salstrom, Cole Ekerson, Cooper Johansson, Ty Ekerson, Brent Hollatz and Kenny Koonrad simply refused to allow their team’s goal to escape their grip and all six earned state medals.

Montesano has now placed in the top 10 at state every season since 2014, but this is only the second time that the Bulldogs have finished in 3rd place, the second highest placing ever achieved by a Montesano wrestling team.

Coaches Jeff Klinger, Jeff Catterlin, Darrel White, Austin Cain and Fidel Sanchez were elated with their team’s effort and accomplishments.

Klinger praised his entire squad and expressed appreciation for the support the wrestling team has received this season from the school, the community and his wrestlers parents.

“We were able to accomplish exactly what we set out to do this season despite our youth and a considerable amount of adversity,” Klinger said. “It is a credit to the support we received and to our kid’s effort and fortitude.”

Monte received more good news on Saturday when it was announced that Klinger had been selected as the 2019 -2020 Class 1A Coach of the Year. Klinger, however, was quick to credit his staff, particularly long-time assistant Jeff Catterlin for making the award possible.

“Jeff and I started together 15 years ago and I consider this honor to be his as well as mine,” Klinger said.

Of Montesano’s six medalists, only Hollatz won’t be back next season.

“Our kids after real pinners,” said assistant coach Darrel White. “Without those extra points we would have been out of the running for a top four finish.”

Two wrestlers were named to first team all state for academics for Class 1A: Hollatz at 182 pounds and Cooper Johansson at 126.

Now that the season has ended, the excitement associated with their team’s accomplishments is high, but for the Bulldog coaching staff the promise of the 2020-2021 wrestling season is already beginning to burn brightly.

“We will miss our seniors”, said assistant coach and inspirational team leader Jeff Catterlin, “but with 5 state medalists and an additional 10 state veterans returning as well as a good crop of eighth-graders moving into the high school program, we will be even better next season.”

It certainly sounds as if the Bulldogs are already beginning to formulate some new goals!