Sending 12 wrestlers to the finals and claiming six individual championships, the Lincoln Abes emerged with the team title in their home gym at the Tacoma City Championships on Jan. 19.
Austin Pizzaro helped lead the Abes by pinning Foss’ Hien Ly with seven seconds left in the opening round of the 182-pound match. Trailing 2-0, Ly got a takedown of Pizzaro and looked to have him pinned before the Abes’ senior captain pulled a quick reversal.
“I’ve been getting caught in those all year, so we’ve been practicing that,” said Pizzaro. “I kind of just let him think he was about to pin me, and I finally swung my hips and got him over.”
Mohamed Badji had gotten the Abes started by pinning Bellarmine Prep’s Josiah Mayo in the 113-pound match with just over a minute left after going up 14-7. Similarly, teammate Avery Meyer pinned the Lions’ Kory O’Connor midway through the third round after taking a 10-2 lead at 126 pounds. Juan Vicente followed with a pin of teammate Charles Jackson in the 132-pound match, and Robert Mathews outlasted teammate Lionel Acosta 16-4 at 138 pounds. Aliyas Fletcher followed Pizzaro’s pin by taking a 7-1 decision over Bellarmine’s Aidan Senecal at 195 pounds, as the Abes put up 259 points as a team.
“It means a lot to me, personally, because this is my senior year,” said Pizzaro, noting the tournament was the finish of a tough week that included dual meets against Timberline and Bellarmine. “As coach (Ed LaCross) said, this is a week that defined us…he really wanted this, and we wanted it bad for him.”
Bellarmine, meanwhile, got five individual champions as the Lions settled for second place with 207 team points. Jed Klein got them going by outlasting teammate Andrew Turner 6-0 in the 106-pound match, and Luke Witker pinned teammate Nicholas Rose in the first round at 120 pounds. Carson Grissafi scored a dominant 13-2 victory over Stadium’s J.J. Sealey at 152 pounds, and senior Louis Catiller followed by pinning Lincoln’s Ike Castro with 11 seconds left in the second round at 160 pounds.
“I wrestled him a couple days earlier,” Catiller said. “It was pretty much the exact same thing that happened. He did a little bit better on his feet this time. But I just wrestle my game, really to just outlast (the opponent).”
Hunter Taylor followed Catiller with the Lions’ final individual championship, pinning Wilson’s Chris Neiman with 16 seconds left in the 170-pound match. Wilson senior Jake Ferris – the defending state 195-pound runner-up – tallied the Rams’ lone finals victory by pinning Lincoln’s Queveon Jenkins midway through the first round of the 220-pound match, and is looking toward the state meet once again.
“I’ve just got to stay calm,” said Ferris of his focus. “I can’t be nervous because of all the hype. I might be a state runner-up, but I have to (continue to) prove myself so I can keep getting better and better.”
Foss also scored a couple of victories, as junior Jonathan Cabrera pinned Lincoln’s Thomas DeJohnette with one second left in the first round at 145 pounds. Patiole Pesefea then closed out the meet with a pin of the Abes’ Eric Pula midway through the first round of the 285-pound bout, after falling to his brother Su’e Pesefea of Mount Tahoma in the finals last year.
“I wanted to continue what my brother did,” Patiole Pesefea said. “He won it last year, now it’s my year, so I wanted to win it.”
The Falcons finished with 162 points as a team to place third, while Wilson placed fourth with 128 points and Stadium tallied 28 points to finish fifth.