CASTLE ROCK - Brandon Vitkoczy in the 215 lbs. weight classification won three matches and lost two in the super-regional wrestling tournament at Castle Rock Friday and Saturday to earn the right to be an alternate at this weekend's Mat Classic state wrestling meet in the Tacoma Dome.

Rudy Alvarez at 103 lbs. and Ikaika Thomas at 285 lbs. also won matches at the super-regional before being eliminated and Bobby Richards at 189 lbs. and Taylor Odneal at 145 lbs. also competed in Castle Rock. The Rockets and Orting tied for the team title and Vashon and Forks finished third and fourth in the 21-team event. Ilwaco tied White Salmon for 18th place as a team.

Vitkoczy, who had won the Trico League title the week before, pinned Calen Mehrer of Friday Harbor in his first bout. He ran into trouble against Tyler Working of Onalaska and lost 9-1, but recovered to pin Kyle Martin of Vashon in the third round. Zack Sowards of Orting defeated Vitkoczy 9-0 and then Vitkoczy pinned LaCenter's Francisco Aguilar in the first round to finish seventh among 15 wrestlers in his weight class.

Should one of the six wrestlers in Vitkoczy's weight division not be able to compete in Tacoma then he will wrestle at the state meet. Coach Kevin McNulty said, "Brandon was in a very tough bracket, but he wrestled well. Everyone of his opponents knew they had been in a battle. He had a great senior season and was very competitive. Of course, he still may have an opportunity to compete at state if someone doesn't make weight or can't wrestle for any reason."

Alvarez was pinned by Toledo's Reynolds, he pinned Williams of Bellevue Christian, and then lost to Jesse Brown of Rainier by fall in the first round. "Rudy had a good showing for a freshman. A win at regionals is something to be proud of. He's hooked on wrestling now and will only improve during his high school years."

Odneal was pinned by Devin Ossman of Cascade Christian and Warner of Castle Rock. McNulty said, "Taylor competed with pizzazz this season. As a freshman in his weight class most of his opponents are a year or two older, but making it to regionals will only make him that much better next season."

Richards was pinned by Geran Webb of Vashon and then lost a hard-fought match to Ben Ward of Castle Rock 10-6. "Bobby has been tenacious all year when he was on top. He finished strong this season and with more work on fundamentals he will do well his next two years," McNulty predicted.

Thomas lost by fall to Matt Combs of Montesano in his first bout, then pinned Alex Barnes of Orting in the second round, before being pinned by Tim Jovanocich of Vashon. McNulty said, "Ikaika was just a move away from qualifying for state by finishing in the top six in the heavy weight division. He was able to put himself in the position to compete for a state berth."

Vitkoczy finishes with a 21-9 record, Alvarez is 10-13, Richards 7-18, Thomas 17-22, and Odneal completes the year with a 4-22 mark. For the season the Fishermen won 85 matches, more than double the number of wins from the year before, and lost 156 for a .353 winning percentage.

Through fundraisers during the season the entire Ilwaco wrestling team will go to the Mat Classic and observe the tournament. The entire team has continued to wrestle at practice even after being eliminated from further participation, and although only Vitkoczy has an outside opportunity to compete at state, the entire team will continue to practice the final week of the season.

"I have always had all my wrestlers continue to practice until the state meet, even if they weren't going to the Mat Classic," McNulty explained. "The extra couple of weeks helps the guys get a leg up on the competition for next year and is a positive step in building for the future." As for the trip to the Tacoma Dome, McNulty added, "Boy, do we have some excited kids knowing they are going to be able to see Mat Classic for the first time. I'm sure this trip will help them set higher goals for next year."

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