Abes take team title at Narrows Championships

// Plenty of local wrestlers advance to regionals

Lincoln sent six wrestlers to the finals, with 126-pounder Juan Vicente and 170-pounder Keidrick O’Bannon claiming individual titles as the Abes put up 307.5 points to claim the team title at the Narrows League Championships at Foss High School on Feb. 1-2.

Vicente pinned Foss’ Joseph Wurtz early in the finals, while O’Bannon outlasted Wilson’s Chris Neiman 4-2 after pinning North Thurston’s Anthony White in the semifinals. But it was the Abes’ overall depth that was most impressive, as with the top four wrestlers in each bracket advancing to the regional meet, Lincoln had 14 wrestlers qualify.

Senior captain Austin Pizarro also advanced in the 170-pound bracket, pinning White in the consolation finals, while Muhammed Badji fell to Timberline’s Nico Laiuppa in the 113-pound finals and Ike Castro took runner-up at 160 pounds after being pinned by Mount Tahoma’s Austin Colburn.

“All the practice has worked up to now,” said Castro of advancing to districts. “It’s all about just staying focused during practice and during warm-ups.”

The Abes’ Aliyas Fletcher later lost a tight-knit match to Timberline’s Ethan Metzger in the 182-pound bracket to claim second place.

Along with Neiman, Wilson had four other wrestlers advance to regionals, headlined by 195-pound champ and defending state runner-up Jake Ferris, who pinned North Thurston’s Jake Grantham in the second round of the finals. The Rams’ Blake Irish fell to North Thurston’s Marcus Ulloth to claim runner-up at 152 pounds, while up-and-coming Wilson freshman Tanner Colburn was topped by defending state champ Stone Hart of Timberline in the 220-pound finals after earlier outlasting Mount Tahoma’s Joey Gillies 7-3 in the semifinals.

“I owe that to my coaches and my teammates,” said Colburn of his semifinal win. He added that Ferris is “always pushing me at practice, making sure I’m always going 100 percent, so that when I have matches like these I’m able to wrestle my match and outlast my opponent.”

Along with Gillies and Austin Colburn, Mount Tahoma’s Gerardo Cuevas placed third at 152 pounds and Jakob Kinsley place fourth at 285 pounds to advance to regionals.

Foss junior Jonathan Thomas headlined the Falcons’ day with an impressive 13-4 win over Lincoln’s Robert Matthews in the 138-pound finals.

“All of his hard work and commitment is starting to pay off,” said Foss head coach Ron Ellis of Thomas. “He’s starting to get into a really good flow.”

Wurtz, 106-pounder Wascar Carpio and 285-pounder Patiole Pesefea claimed second place in their respective brackets, while Jonathan Cabrera placed third at 145 pounds to also advance for the Falcons.

Bellarmine Prep’s Taylor Ladenburg – having recently dealt with a lower-back injury – breezed through the 182-pound bracket in the 4A tournament, topping Olympia’s Josh Newbill 5-1 in the finals to run his season record to 25-0.

“He’s getting back into pretty good form,” said Bellarmine head coach Dave Grisaffi. “He’s hopefully going to just keep surprising people…It’s the quietest 25-0 (record) in the state.”

The Lions’ Hunter Taylor advanced to the 170-pound finals – falling to South Kitsap’s Bryce Broome – while sophomore Elliot Villars was the runner-up at 220 pounds. Stadium freshman Diante Wise will be the Tigers’ lone representative at regionals after he topped Bellarmine’s Andrew Turner 12-1 in the 106-pound consolation finals.

The 4A regional tournament takes place at Snohomish High School on Feb. 9 at 10 a.m., while the 3A tournament takes place at Bonney Lake High School on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.

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