Split Monte squad takes first in La Center wrestling meet

The Montesano High School wrestling team split into two groups Saturday sending 10 team members to the 20 team Wildcat Invitational at La Center High School while the remainder of the team traveled to Chehalis for a large jamboree.

No team scores were kept in Chehalis. At La Center, despite entering only 10 of 14 weights, Montesano shocked the field and edged Washougal High School for the team title.

The Bulldogs won 24 matches and lost 10 in La Center. It was a tough field with many returning state participants and place winners.

Sophomore Jacob Salstrom (120 pounds) and freshman Cole Ekerson (126) both took first place in their weight classes at La Center. One Bulldog took second place: sophomore Isaiah Pierce (185). Finishing in third for Monte were junior Ty Ekerson (145), junior Cooper Johansson, sophomore Isaac Pierce (160) and junior Stephen Rademacher (220).

The championship was a real shocker for Monte because they entered only a partial team. Illness, injuries and scheduling conflicts combined to prevent several regular wrestlers from participating.

In his quarterfinal match, Ekerson, who was unseeded, got a 4-1 win over top seeded Andy Melz of Southridge High School, a 2019 state place winner in Oregon. In his final, Ekerson had another tough match with AA Ridgefield’s Joey Blick. Blick scored first leading 2-0 at the end of the first period. In the second period, Ekerson escaped and scored a takedown to take a 3-2 lead when he tripped Blick on the edge of the mat and was called for stalling, knotting the score at 3-3. Blick chose down for the their period and Ekerson quickly grabbed a bar arm and stuck Blick’s shoulders to the mat for a fall and his first high school invitational title.

At 120 pounds, Salstrom pinned his first two opponents and won a decision over his third opponent, 10-2, before meeting Skyview’s tough Andre Au in the final. Salstrom took down Au for a 2-0 lead. In the second period, he escaped and scored another takedown before Au escaped making the score 5-1. In a flurry of scoring in the third period, Au scored 4 points to Salstrom’s 3, but the Bulldog sophomore prevailed and won the title 8-5.

The Bulldogs hosted a tough Chehalis team Wednesday. Those results ended too late for this edition.

Coach Jeff Klinger just named Ekerson as the Wrestler of the Week.