Sports

South Whidbey qualifies six for wrestling regional championships

Montana Johnson works out of Cedarcrest senior Alex Heuter’s grasp during the 160-pound bout at the conference tournament.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Montana Johnson works out of Cedarcrest senior Alex Heuter’s grasp during the 160-pound bout at the conference tournament.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

DUVALL — For the first time in several years, South Whidbey has a district champion wrestler.

Falcon senior Cameron Schille won the 132-pound division with two pins and a decision at the Cascade Conference Sub-regional Wrestling Tournament on Saturday.

Wrestling at 132 pounds was new for Schille, who spent most of the season at 138 until he dropped some weight for the sub-regional tournament last week.

“It was a funny story about Cameron, because he didn’t really have any weigh-ins at that weight, so he got seeded third,” said Falcon head coach Jim Thompson.

“I don’t care if you seed him second, I don’t care if you seed him third, he’s going to win it,” Thompson said.

Schille pinned Cedarcrest sophomore Mason Barrett in 1:09, beat Granite Falls sophomore Riley Hansen in a 7-2 decision and pinned Archbishop Murphy junior Timothy Callaghan in 3:06.

“I kept looking at the kid from Archbishop and could tell he was nervous,” Thompson said of the second-year wrestler.

“We haven’t had a district champion in a while, so that’s neat,” he added.

Three other Falcon seniors will compete at Bellingham High School this Saturday. Montana Johnson (160) rallied from a near-pin in the first round. Cedarcrest senior Alex Heuter led 11-5 in the final period with less than 40 seconds left. Johnson rolled Heuter, turned him onto his shoulders and pinned the Red Wolf in 5:23 to recover from an almost certain loss.

“He was stronger than me. He kept rolling me through. I’ve got two ribs out of place, so it’s hard for me to roll,” Johnson said. “Finally I heisted and got him in a half [Nelson].”

“I was a little bit nervous toward the end. I was on my back and I knew it was going to be hard,” he added.

Johnson lost his second match in a 5-2 decision to Granite Falls junior Tommy Eadie.

Johnson’s third match was a turnaround from his previous three-round marathons. He pinned Sultan freshman Charles Johnson in 48 seconds.

In his final match of the day, Montana Johnson beat Lakewood senior Nick Kragseth 19-10, a major decision.

“I just have to work through the pain. It’s what you’re willing to give up,” Johnson said.

“I wore myself out quite a bit.”

South Whidbey will have two wrestlers in the 195-pound division at the 2A regional tournament.

Seniors Avery Buechner and Jerimiah Robey battled each other for the third and fourth spots to the regional matches. Buechner, a second-year wrestler, beat Robey 8-2.

“He wrestled OK enough to get third,” Thompson said of Buechner.

The Falcon seniors took a similar path to the qualifying match.

Both began the day with pins. Buechner pinned Cedarcrest senior Spencer Boak in 1:35. Robey pinned Granite Falls senior Jesse Hills in 1:43.

“I got a nice ankle pick and just went from there. He kept trying to block my halfs (half-Nelson),” Robey said.

In the second round, both Buechner and Robey were pinned. Robey lost to 195-pound champion Jesse Castillo, a senior from Sultan, for the second time this season.

Buechner, who dropped from 220 pounds this season, fell to Archbishop Murphy sophomore Foster Wade in 5:13.

They traded first-round foes in the third round. Robey pinned Boak in 2:41, and Buechner pinned Hills in 1:57. Their victories set up the teammate-on-teammate showdown.

A pair of underclassmen rounded out the Falcons’ regional qualifiers.

Sophomore Jose Chavez (285) advanced automatically because there were only three other heavyweights entered in the sub-regional tournament. He was pinned in both matches by Lakewood sophomores Tristan Nelson and Dilin Jackson.

“I threw him to the wolves, but I wanted him to get to regionals,” Thompson said.

“Next year he’ll be a better wrestler for it.”

The Falcon coach’s pleasant surprise came from freshman Josh McElhinny’s qualification in the 113. The first-year wrestler rebounded from a major decision loss to Cedarcrest sophomore Callen Martinez to pin Lakewood sophomore Mitchell Darrah in 1:55.

“The one match that he needed to win to get there, I didn’t even realize it was a match for him to go to regionals,” Thompson said. “It was one of those neat surprise moments.”

McElhinny was pinned in the qualifying match by Martinez in 2:08.

“He wrestled some kids I could tell had a lot more experience,” Thompson said.

Falcon senior Steve Sutton lost his first-round match to Granite Falls sophomore Tysen Campbell 11-8.

Thompson said Sutton may have been tired because he was a couple of pounds overweight that morning, and had to run out some water weight on the ferry and in the parking lot.

“Obviously it’s not a good thing to lose two pounds the morning of a match,” Thompson said.

Sutton recovered in the second round against Lakewood junior Jeremy Peterson. The Falcon senior won a major decision 15-3. He lost his final match to Lakewood junior Cameran Wheeler in another close decision, 13-9.

Sutton is the 138-pound alternate at the regional tournament and will travel with the team on Saturday.

The Falcons will continue to practice this week as they have all season, Thompson said. Every wrestler is expected to attend, whether they qualified or not.

“We’re working on everything. I thought we were OK from the bottom,” Thompson said.

“Everybody’s got something.”

Cedarcrest won the tournament with 280 team points. The Red Wolves had 14 placers, 18 pins and six major decisions. Lakewood finished second, Granite Falls third, Sultan fourth and Archbishop Murphy fifth. South Whidbey was last in team points.

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