LA CENTER — The culture is building within Skyview’s wrestling program, and with results like Saturday, the Storm can celebrate the progress they’re making.
Skyview finished first out of 18 teams at the La Center Wildcat Wrestling Invitational by compiling 204.5 points, leading a well-rounded field of Southwest Washington programs that also included Washougal (143.5), Columbia River (132.5), La Center (122) and Ridgefield (94.5) in the top five.
Kyler Nelson (132 pounds) and JJ Schoenlein (170) both won their finals matches while Keegan Faust (113), Jack Rankin and Norman Reynolds (220) all finished runner-up. The Storm also got a boost in scoring from four additional top-four placers: Andrew Harrell (145), Landon Mihaljcic (182), Nick O’Neil (195) and Jalen Salavea (285).
“Over the past couple years, our program has been getting built almost from nothing,” Schoenlein said after the finals.
Schoenlein and Owen Pritchard, both state placers at last season’s Mat Classic, are team captains who set the tone in practices and tournaments. The program turnaround is also a credit to the coaching staff, led by head coach Jeff Thompson, all of whom, Schoenlein said, are “really great coaches and great guys.”
“It took an extreme amount of work in the wrestling room, as well as a lot of team bonding, forgiving each other, loving each other like brothers, beating each other up when we need to beat each other up (and) wrestling hard,” Schoenlein said. “That’s what contributes to our great team.”
Skyview also had to press on in the middle of the tournament after seeing one of their teammates suffer a traumatic lower leg injury in a 160-pound match that required paramedics to tend to the injury and transport the athlete to a local hospital.
Their teammate was on the minds of Skyview wrestlers for the rest of the day.
“We got to do it for him. He loves wrestling, he really wanted to be here, he’s very sad and disappointed that he couldn’t be here,” said Schoenlein, who noted the teammate is his workout partner in practices. “It was one of those things that we had to mourn for a little bit. But when (he) got out of here and got to the hospital, he told us to turn it up, and we did.”
The host Wildcats had three wrestlers finish atop the podium — Malachi Wallaway (126), Wyatt Eiesland (182) and Lane Roberts (220) — the most of any team.
As the No. 3 seed in the 220-pound bracket, Roberts was technically an underdog to reach the finals, let alone place first.
The Wildcats senior didn’t mind being in that position.
In the semifinals, Roberts pinned Southridge’s Noah Lundy in 3 minutes, 48 seconds to reach the finals. Roberts and Skyview’s Reynolds then battled for most of two rounds before Roberts got a reversal and pin at the 3:56 mark, drawing a loud cheer from the La Center-leaning crowd.
“I was seeded No. 3, so I wasn’t even supposed to make it out of the semifinals,” Roberts said. “When I pinned that kid (Lundy), everyone went crazy. I’ve wrestled (Reynolds) before just on our own time. We’re kind of going back and forth on who wins and who doesn’t, but to come out with the win when it really matters is what really makes me feel better.”
While Skyview gained a substantial lead for first place in the team scoring, the battle for second was a tight race between Washougal and Columbia River.
The Panthers’ Brody Davis (113) and Blake Mattern (160) both won by fall in the finals to give the Panthers six points apiece. Davis pinned Skyview’s Faust in 1:55 and Mattern pinned River’s Gage Newman in 3:56. Washougal also had Ryan Langston (170) and Isaac Gil (182) place second.
“We lost some really good guys last year,” Davis said. “We had a bunch of freshmen come up and step up this year, so that’s really great. We filled most of our spots.”
Other local winners were Ridgefield’s Nolan Carney (138) and River’s Tennyson Kurtz (145).
La Center Wildcat Wrestling Invitational
At La Center HS
Team scores — Skyview 204.5, Washougal 143.5, Columbia River 132.5, La Center 122, Ridgefield 94.5
106 — Xavier Espinoza (Elma) p. Jacob Webster (Fort Vancouver), 2:58; 113 — Brody Davis (Wash.) p. Keegan Faust (S), 1:55; 120 — Cohen Hartley (Adna) p. Cameron Thomas (Adna), 5:24; 126 — Malachi Wallway (LC) d. Aidan Watson (LC), 5-3; 132 — Kyler Nelson (S) p. Isaiah Rogers (Battle Ground), 5:09; 138 — Nolan Carney (R) p. Felix Estrada (Evergreen), 4:29; 145 — Tennyson Kurtz (CR) p. Mason Rickard (Woodland), 2:37; 152 — Charles Parker (North Thurston) p. Jack Rankin (Skyview), 1:04; 160 — Blake Mattern (Wash.) p. Gage Newman (CR), 3:56; 170 — JJ Schoenlein (S) p. Ryan Langston (Wash.), 5:35; 182 — Wyatt Eiesland (LC) p. Isaac Gil (Wash.), 1:46; 195 — Austin Salazar (Elma) p. Randall Marti (Tenino), 4:51; 220 — Lane Roberts (LC) p. Norman Reynolds (S), 3:56; 285 —Aidan Anderson (NT) p. Deigo Carrion (CR), 1:16
106 —Aiden Deeney (CR) d. Brody Christensen (Seton Catholic), 4-3; 113 — Junior Soto (Hoquiam) p. Eduard Estrada (FV), 1:33; 120 — Jack Givens (CR) p. Austin Mattern (Wash.), 4:14; 126 — Lance Draper (R) d. Joshua Kutch (SC), 9-7; 132 — Kenyon Boyer (Evergreen) p. Mason Townsend (R), 1:50; 138 — Grady Lieziert (Wash.) p. Landon Draper (R), 1:31; 145 — Andrew Harrell (Skyview) d. Alijah Glizman (Kelso), 5-4; 152 — Braiden Romine (BG) p. Wyatt Ballard (LC), 4:49; 160 — Aimen Flemens (Mark Morris) p. Dylan Workman (R), 2:46; 170 — Kysen Knox (T) p. Jacob Price (A), 0:53; 182 — Malcolm Karchesky (Wood.) p. Landon Mihaljcic (S), 2:22; 195 — Cota Stover (R) d. Nick O’Neil (S), 4-1; 220 — Zander Escobar (MM) p. Noah Lundy (Southridge), 4:40; 285 — Andres Capilla-Zamudio (T) d. Jalen Salavea (S), 0-0