Monte wrestlers 2-0 in league, shine at Hoquiam Grizzly Alumni Invitational

Montesano’s wrestlers continue to build toward a post season peak. They started league competition with easy dual meet victories over Tenino and Hoquiam.

Despite their successes, the Bulldog wrestling team still has not placed its entire varsity on the mats at one time this season. Against the Beavers and Grizzlies however, it made little difference. Monte lost one match in their dual with Hoquiam and two matches in their contest with Tenino.

Things went well for Monte this past weekend as well. The varsity finished third in the sixteen team Hoquiam Grizzly Alumni Invitational, behind first place Camas High (173 pts), the seventh rated team in Washington’s Class 4A classification, and second place Washougal, which had 164 points. (Washougal is a Class 2A team). The Bulldogs finished with 154 points and outdistanced all of the other Class A teams in the field.

The Bulldogs pushed 7 of their 10 entrants into the semifinals and five into the championship finals. They came away with three champions, two second place finishers and two in third.

Winning championships for Monte were freshman 120-pounder Cole Ekerson, senior 126-pounder Aaron Lano and junior 145-pounder Ty Ekerson.

Cole Ekerson’s road to the championship final was a smooth one. The Bulldogs’ phenom started strong pinning Raymond’s Raven Frank in 32 seconds. In his second match, he pinned Grayson Patterson of Rochester in a minute flat. In his semifinal, he dispatched Logan Avery of Hoquiam at 2:51. In the final, he faced Blake Mattern of Washougal and quickly jumped out to a lead that led him to a 11-0 major decision.

Lano won his first title of the season with a stellar performance. He pinned Kevin Catalan of Hoquiam at 3:13, crushed Andrew Franks of Issaquah 13-1 and defeated Matt Strickland of Camas 8-3 in their semifinal. In the final, Lano battled Tumwater’s Kaden Latchaw to the wire and came away with an exciting 11-8 victory.

Ty Ekerson scored two consecutive pins over Brooks Greenwell of Tumwater and Joe Hernandez of Mark Morris before edging Kiona Benton’s Keaton Covington 7-6 to earn a spot in the final. In the championship match, Ty Ekerson faced Rochester’s Kalob Spann and won a tightly contested 5-4 decision.

Coach Jeff Klinger praised his entire squad but singled out the performances of Lano and Ty Ekerson in their tough semifinal and finals matches. “Aaron and Ty both wrestled very close, exciting matches and they just simply refused to give up or quit,” Klinger said. As a result of their effort and accomplishments this week, Klinger named Lano and Ty Ekerson Wrestlers of the Week.

Other Montesano wrestlers who placed at Hoquiam are 138-pounder Lucas Salstrom, second; 285-pounder Kenny Koonrad, second; 160-pounder Isaac Pierce, third; and 182-pounder Brent Hollatz, third.

Junior varsity

While the varsity was competing in Hoquiam, Montesano’s second team traveled to a varsity tournament in Tenino. There were 15 teams competing in the Beaver Bash, and Monte’s JV placed in six weight classes. Leading the way were freshman Sean Ryker, who placed second, and sophomore 120-pounder Conner Odekirk, who placed fourth.

Freshman 182-pounder Mateo Sanchez was also wrestling up a storm and began the tournament by defeating two senior state qualifiers. Sanchez beat Castle Rock’s Dakota Gottschalk and pinned Port Townsend’s Wes Blue at the conclusion of a wild match. Monte’s coaches decided to pull Sanchez from the tournament because he was injured slightly in his second match.

“Mateo did a great job and was well on his way to placing highly in what was the toughest weight class in the entire tournament,” coach Darrel White said. “We just felt that, with the post season approaching, it was not in his best interest, nor that of the team, to have him continue.”

Ryker also was injured slightly in his finals match, but received high praise from Monte’s coaches for his technical expertise and competitive drive.

Other wrestlers who placed in Tenino were Denali Harris, fifth at 138 pounds; Jared Whisenhunt, fifth, 152; Brandon Kroeger, fifth, 170; and Alex Delgado, fifth, 220

Monte’s wrestlers return to the mats at 5 p.m. Thursday against Forks at Elma High School and will travel Saturday to Rainier High School for the 18-team Sgt. Justin Norton Memorial Tournament (formerly the Rainier Mountaineer Classic).