LACENTER - Brandon Vitkoczy won the 215 lbs. sub-regional title and five of the seven Ilwaco wrestlers who competed qualified for the super-regional by placing fifth or better Saturday in LaCenter. Ikaika Thomas earned fourth place and Bobby Richards, Taylor Odneal, and Rudy Alvarez each came in fifth as the Fishermen placed a credible fifth among the seven Trico League teams at the meet.
Vitkoczy pinned Kyle Orth of Castle Rock in 20 seconds, Nick Braman of Kalama in 49 seconds and won the league crown by putting Ethan Rall of Stevenson on his back at the 5:20 mark. He will be one of the top seeds in the super-regional wrestling tournament in Castle Rock February 8 and 9. Six wrestlers in each of the 14 weight divisions will qualify for the Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome from the super-regional that will include wrestlers from District's I, II, III, and IV. Vitkoczy is 18-7 for the season.
Coach Kevin McNulty said, "Brandon is peaking at the right time and we have some pretty excited kids who wrestled well and are moving on to super-regionals. All of our wrestlers will continue to practice, even if they didn't qualify for super-regionals, which shows their strong commitment to our program."
Taylor Odneal at 145 lbs. had what McNulty said was "a truly exciting match" when he won in triple-overtime in a loser-out, winner-qualifies match. He defeated Kendall Lang of LaCenter 5-4. The match was tied 4-4 after three rounds and neither wrestler scored a point in two one-minute over-time rounds. The victor was decided in the final 30-second round when Odneal managed an escape. He was pinned in his first bout by Jeff Edwards of Castle Rock and lost a 7-2 decision to While Salmon's Connor Warner to put him at 4-20 for the year.
"Bobby Richards had his best day as a wrestler. He defeated two guys who had beaten him earlier in the season and he is one happy individual knowing he qualified to wrestle next week," McNulty stated. Richards at 189 lbs. was pinned by Nate Wilfong of Kalama, decisioned Kristien Contreras of While Salmon 7-4, was pinned by Ben Ward of White Salmon, and then pinned Austin Altof of Castle Rock in 1:18 of the first round. Alvarez lost to Blake Marva and Jordan Murphy of Rochester by a pin and by an 8-3 decision, but because only five wrestlers made weight at the 103 lbs. classification he finished fifth. Richards now has a 7-16 record and Alvarez is 9-11.
Thomas lost his first 285 lbs. bout to Stevenson's Wade Huett by a fall at 2:25, then pinned Ilwaco's Dylan Short in 44 seconds and Brenden Deans of Kalama in 2:29, before again losing to Huett in the battle for third and fourth place. Short also was defeated by Beau Radach of Castle Rock. "Ikaika came through nicely and Dylan also did an amazing job. He was ahead of Ikaika in the early going in their match, showing just how much Dylan has improved throughout the season." Thomas is 16-20 and Short ends his year at 5-14.
Charlie Shannon at 160 lbs. split four matches, but unfortunately his weight bracket was loaded with talented wrestlers and Shannon was eliminated. He pinned White Salmon's Jim Price in 47 seconds, lost an 11-0 decision to LaCenter's Mike Dempsey, pinned Castle Rock's Ryan Ward in 51 seconds, and then lost to Mitch Grendahl of Castle Rock by pin at the 2:49 mark of the second round. Shannon finishes with a 9-15 mark for the campaign. The Fishermen were 10-12 at sub-regionals as a team.
"I was proud of the way all of our kids competed. To finish fifth place as a team is a tribute to their effort and improvement all season long. We were by far the most inexperienced team in the league and yet we have five guys moving on and seven who gave it their best effort," McNulty praised. "This was a big step for our program and now hopefully we will take another big step next week and send some people on to the Mat Classic. The best thing about Saturday, though, is that we had some really excited kids and you can't beat that."
For all the super-regional pairings and to see how the Fishermen wrestlers have done after next weekend's competition, go to www.sww1a.com and click on the "Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 Wrestling" link at the top of the Web page.