Monte wrestlers place at Vashon and North Mason

Split squads both take sixth at tournaments

For the first time since competition began this season, the Montesano wrestling team ended a week without crowning a champion.

The Bulldogs split their squad and traveled to the perennially tough The Rock Invitational on Vashon Island with ten varsity entrants and a second group of Bulldogs traveled to North Mason High School for the Henson Invitational. Both squads placed sixth.

At Vashon, Monte had 8 place winners, and at North Mason, they had 10.

Leading the charge at Vashon were the Ekerson brothers, Ty (junior) and Cole (freshman) and sophomore 113-pounder Jacob Salstrom. Both Ekersons suffered one point losses in their championship finals, and Salstrom’s semifinal went into overtime before he lost.

Wrestling at 126 pounds, Cole Ekerson pinned Logan Avery of Hoquiam, decisioned Parker Stinebaugh of Lakeside and pinned top-seeded Ethan McIntyre of Vashon to qualify for the championship final. In the final, Cole fell behind early to senior Fernie Vaquez of Class 3A Everett High School, but he battled back to finish just a single point down at 6-5 as the match ended.

At 145 pounds, Ty Ekerson pinned Ethan Gossard of Forks, Jackson Balmer of Lakeside and second seeded Hunter Maillicoat of Lacenter. In his final match, Ekerson dropped a 2-1 decision to Killian Cronk of Mount Baker.

Salstrom’s only defeat (an overtime sudden death loss) was to second seeded Riley Hoople of Granite Falls.

Coach Jeff Klinger had high praise for all three.

“Jacob, Cole and Ty all lost a single, closely contested match to very highly rated opponents,” he said. “They are the type of kids who will be motivated to work even harder because of these setbacks. We feel good about the improvement they are making and feel confident that they will continue to progress as the season moves forward.”

At North Mason, the team was led by seniors Brent Hollatz and Aaron Lano and sophomore heavyweight Kenny Koonrad who each placed second.

Hollatz looked especially strong, pinning both his quarterfinal and semifinal opponents and was leading in the championship final against Jeffrey Myers of Lindbergh when he was caught on his back. It was Hollatz’s first loss of the season. Lano and Koonrad were also pinned in their championship final matches.


The wrestling coaching staff has selected freshman 113-pounder Sean Ryker, 182 pound freshman Mateo Sanchez and 220 pound sophomore Alex Delgado as co-wrestlers of the week.

All three underclassmen placed third in this past weekend’s tournaments.

Ryker lost only to second seeded Cameron Johnson of Klahowya while defeating third seeded Joel Nelson of Aberdeen and fourth seeded Antonio Francisco-Juan of North Mason to earn his third place medal. His victory over Nelson was a sweet one for him because it avenges a loss he suffered at Nelson’s hands this season.

“Sean is wrestling very well,” assistant coach Darrel White said. “He is displaying great technique and improving steadily.”

Sanchez pinned fourth seeded Brian Sims of Zillah in his first match and then defeated A.J. Whipple of Elma before being defeated in the semifinals at 182 pounds by top seed and eventual champion Hayden Queen of Forks. Sanchez had beaten Sims a second time to place third. He is surprising coaches and athletes alike with his ability to compete successfully at a weight normally dominated by juniors and seniors.

Delgado was beaten in his first match by eventual 220 pound champion and tournament Outstanding Wrestler recipient Sofian Hammou of North Kitsap but went on to defeat Troy McKelvey of Klahowya and second seeded Joseph Herrera of Port Townsend to place third. It was Delgado’s highest placing of the season and he too is competing as a sophomore in a weight class normally dominated by upperclassmen.