CENTRALIA — Brandon Duke and Ghannon Whelden won District titles at Centralia, leading a group of 16 Ilwaco wrestlers who qualified for next week’s regional tournament in Adna, with another two going as alternates.

Duke made short work of his opponents in the 145 weight class, with first-round pins of all three. In finals against Toledo’s Trey Rego, who wrestled at State last year as a freshman, Duke got an immediate takedown and quickly built a 7-1 lead before finishing Rego off with a pin 76 seconds into the match.

Whelden, at 132, had a longer struggle in his final against Ocosta’s Daniel Quinby, a senior who has been to State three times. Neither could gain an edge until Whelden’s two-point reversal late in the second round, when he got control of Quinby’s hand and rolled out from under him. Stalemate restored itself in round three. Whelden, leading 2-0 and starting the round on top, could not gain control of Quinby, nor could Whelden work his way up. With the match winding down and Quinby needing points, Quinby’s coaches urged him to go to a cradle move.

“It’s pretty easy to counter just by stretching out,” Whelden said, thereby preventing one’s opponent from locking his arms under one’s body. “And he had his arm on the wrong side,” meaning he couldn’t control Whelden’s head. Quinby’s aggressive move opened him up to Whelden’s counter-attack; Whelden got another reversal for a 4-0 final score.

In the same weight class, freshman Chris Lake had a first-round pin in just 35 seconds, then lasted 3:39 against Quinby before being pinned. He won two more matches to take fifth, qualifying for regionals.

Keegan Kemmer went 2-1 to finish second out of eight competitors at 138. In finals he took on Tristan Hamlin, who last year went to state by taking second at the regional tournament. The two each turned back numerous attacks before Hamlin gained control and came up with a pin 1:39 into the match.

At 182, Landin Frank had two pins before losing 10-8 to Jacob Sullivan in finals to take second. Trevor Hutson went 2-1, including a win over Jacob Martin of Rainier (WA) in the third-place match.

Regionals in Adna will begin at 10 a.m. Feb. 9.

Michael Rodda went 1-1 to place second among five wrestlers at 285. Bryan Sparks went 2-1 to finish third in the same bracket, twice beating Life Christian’s Louis Hwang.

Jaymie Patana took third at 2-1 in the girls’ 125 class to qualify for regionals, while Daniela Mendez-Diaz qualified as an alternate after going 1-2 for fourth-place in 120.

Chris Wood managed a fourth-place finish, Aidyn Cohen-Tjaden, Aiden Auttelet, and Nate Hopkins all took fifth, and Even Perez, Dylan Simonson and Corey Morrison placed sixth. All qualified for regionals. Griffin Cutting won a seventh-place match to make it as an alternate.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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