Send 12 to Mat Classic in Tacoma Dome this weekend
By DAMIAN MULINIX
For the Observer
ADNA — For the second year in a row the Ilwaco High School wrestling team was named regional champions, Saturday in Adna. The Fishermen won the title with 215.5 points, followed by Adna with 158.
Ilwaco also had four seniors bring home regional titles — Tony Merino-Orozco (120), Jack Odneal (138), Daylin Kemmer (170) and Alec Bell (220). And those four will be far from alone this weekend inside the Tacoma Dome at the 2017 Mat Classic State Championship Meet, as eight of their teammates will be joining them — with four more coming along as alternates — a school record for state qualifiers.
“(It’s) good for our kids, good for our program and a school record for Ilwaco,” said coach Kevin McNulty of his teams success. “All have put in time and worked hard and it is great to see kids accomplish great things.”
Bringing home hardware
IHS sophomore Ghannon Wheldon placed second in the 113 pound class Saturday, with teammate Brandon McMullen placing third at 182. Marcello Lazaro placed third at 285 pounds while Trenton Cox (113), Wilfrido Mendez (120) each placed fourth. Coming in fifth were Aaron Chetwood (106), Marcus Connor (195) and Cahlahbe Wheldon (285). Placing sixth to qualify as a Mat Classic alternate were Allen Chetwood (132), Royce Murry (138), Trevor Hutson (170) and Cahlin McNabb (195).
It’s a good mix of wrestlers who have state experience, as well as some going for their first time. McNulty said that they bring the entire team to the tourney, even if they did not qualify to wrestle, just so they can get some of the “state experience.”
“As a team we practice in the dome on Thursday so everyone experiences the feeling of being down on the mats in a huge setting,” he explained.
The coach went on to say that regardless of their experience — or lack thereof — he tells them all the same thing.
“Make it like the practice room. No pressure,” McNulty said. “Understand that 10,000 fans are not there to watch you. Relax, wrestle and be in attack mode.”
McNulty did say that he and his coaching staff do tend to use more hand signals for matches in the dome, since, “the noise can be unreal.”
With a little help from their friends (and brothers)
Last year in the finals of the regional tournament, Kemmer was named champion after his opponent, teammate Brandon McMullen, forfeited the match to save them from having to wrestle each other prior to the state tournament. This year, Kemmer punched his ticket to state after teammate Trevor Hutson forfeited their semifinal match for the same reason. Kemmer, who placed fourth at state last year, will receive a first round bye at this weekends Mat Classic.
The Fishermen are sending two pairs of brothers to the state tourney — Ghannon Wheldon and his brother Cahlahbe, and Allen and Aaron Chetwood. And IHS teammates will be squaring off first thing at state. In the first round of the 285 pound class, Calahbe Wheldon will face Lazaro.
Bigger and better
The Fishermen placed fifth at the state tournament last year as a team. With at least a dozen wrestlers in action this weekend, IHS may not only be wrestling for individual titles, but also the team crown. Coach McNulty said that the team has been building toward this moment all year.
“During the season we try to put our kids in a large tournament. This year, we attended the Las Vegas Holiday Classic with 78 teams,” he said. “Our kids had the opportunity to experience a big environment, huge brackets and tough kids. We hope this pays dividends at the end of the season.”
In addition to all-league honors covered elsewhere in this edition, coaches McNulty and Gene Ford received the head coach and assistant Coach of the Year awards, respectively.
2017 Mat Classic 1B/2B state tournament, Tacoma Dome, Feb. 17-18
Day one first match start times:
Tony Merino — first round Bye, second round 4:32 p.m.
Wilfrido Mendez — First round 10:32 a.m.
Aaron Chetwood — First round 10:12 a.m.
Ghannon Wheldon — First round 10:20 a.m.
Trenton Cox — First round 10:24 a.m.
Jack Odneal — First round Bye, second round 5:20 p.m.
Daylin Kemmer — First round Bye, second round 6:24 p.m.
Brandon McMullen — First round 12:48 p.m.
Marcus Connor — First round 1 p.m.
Alec Bell — First round Bye, second round 7:16 p.m.
Cahlahbe Wheldon — First round 1:28 p.m.
Marcello Lazaro — First round 1:28 p.m.