Rebounding from the loss of nine graduated seniors last year, Bellarmine Prep continued a solid start to their season with a 60-12 win at undermanned Stadium on Jan. 10.
The Tigers, who are looking to build the program under first-year coach Steve Haase, a former longtime coach at Bellarmine, were hurt right off the bat by eight forfeits. The Lions claimed four of the six matches on the night, including senior Taylor Ladenburg’s pin of Stadium’s Kaleb Rascon just 25 seconds into the 182-pound bout.
“Our technique is coming along,” said Bellarmine head coach Dave Grisaffi, noting that the Lions have continued to change their style from years past after attending college camps. “Our ability to stay in wrestling matches and stay aggressive is one of the goals we’ve wanted to accomplish – and not be meek and not be soft.”
The match began with an entertaining battle in the 106-pound bout, as the Lions’ Jed Klein outlasted Stadium’s Diante Wise 10-8 in overtime. Wise took down Klein early in the overtime period and looked to have him pinned, but Klein escaped and turned the tables.
“We’ve got a few lower-weight (wrestlers) that are really doing work,” said Ladenburg, who noted that Klein and 120-pound wrestler Josiah Mayo are impressing early. “I see a really bright future for those guys. All of our young guys are really fitting in with the rest of the group.”
The Tigers, though, responded with a pair of impressive victories, as James Norton had an early takedown on Andrew Turner in the 113-pound match and went on to pin him late in the first round. In the 132-pound bout, Stadium’s Jordon Envoldsen went down 5-4 after the first round to Kory O’Connor before recovering to take a 9-7 lead on a takedown and earning a pin shortly thereafter.
Deadlocked 2-2 after the second round of the 145-pound matchup, the Lions’ Kevin McCarthy pulled away from Stadium’s J.J. Sealey with two takedowns and earned a 6-3 win. Carson Grisaffi followed with a pin of the Tigers’ Sean O’Brien 32 seconds into the 152-pound bout, just before Ladenburg answered with his quick pin.
The Lions improved to 4-1 on the year with the win, and Ladenburg noted that with the graduation of last year’s leaders, his ascension to team leader has provided a new dynamic.
“It’s a new role,” said Ladenburg, who advanced to the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome in the 160-pound weight class last year. “I’ve got to be serious sometimes, and that’s new for me.”
And with a solid group of seniors again this year, including 160-pouder Louis Catiller, the Lions look to be a formidable opponent against anyone that takes the mat against them.
The Tacoma City Championships – which the Lions won last season – were set to take place on Jan. 19 at 9 a.m. at Lincoln high school.